Academic Continuity: Faculty & Staff

Broward College Academic Continuity Plan in Response to COVID-19

As a part of Broward College's Academic Continuity plan, the points below provide faculty general guidance and recommendations to ensure that the College sustains its academic mission through this response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This college-wide transition from traditional face-to-face instruction to a remote learning environment will require a broad collaborative effort from faculty and staff. The massive scope of this change requires all of us to work together to make sure we are doing our very best in maintaining academic continuity for our students. This challenge is further complicated by the fact that nearly all of our faculty and staff will be working remotely. It is critical that faculty and staff ensure that their communication via email, D2L, phone, or other means is regular, timely, and substantive. Being intentionally communicative is the most crucial element in creating an effective remote learning environment.

Decide on what mode(s) of delivery will best suit you and your students: asynchronous, synchronous, or a mix of both.

Asynchronous delivery means that you and your students will access content and contribute to online discussions at different times. This is the type of online learning that typically happens in D2L in online courses. Synchronous delivery means that students will be required to participate online during the specific time when the class would regularly meet. Blackboard Collaborate is a live conferencing tool within D2L that faculty and student can use to meet synchronously in real-time.  Faculty should design a course experience that best fits the content and learning outcomes of the course. Faculty are encouraged to use a blend of Asynchronous and Synchronous delivery to help students meet the learning outcomes of the course.

Asynchronous Delivery

Instructors have a variety of options when it comes to sharing course materials asynchronously. In D2L, you can distribute content through modules, use asynchronous discussion forums, and post pre-recorded video files.

Lecture materials can be easily created by typing what you would normally say into the notes section of a PowerPoint and export the file as a PDF; alternatively, you can record a voice-over narration and export the file as a video. Post these lectures in a conspicuous place in the modules area of your course Home page. Keep in mind that bullet points alone are usually not enough to communicate your ideas effectively as an asynchronous lecture.

Discussions are most effective when they are scaffolded. In this way, students have one deadline to post and a second deadline to respond to other students' posts; often, these deadlines are two or more days apart.

Synchronous Delivery

Host synchronous sessions using Blackboard Collaborate during regularly scheduled meeting times. Blackboard Collaborate is a tool available in D2L.  Both faculty and students can share audio, video, text, and documents through this campus-supported tool, which means that you can still give a lecture on course content and facilitate small-group and large-group discussions.

Students should not be expected to take part in synchronous discussions outside of already assigned class meeting times. If you are concerned that some of your students will face barriers in the synchronous format, including students who need an accommodation that is documented by the Accessibility Resource Center, try facilitating asynchronous discussions instead.  Importantly, the synchronous feature of Blackboard Collaborate will allow you to record the session so students can review these live discussions and lectures.

Participate in College Training and Leverage Available Resources

Broward College's Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning provides a variety of training options and resources to help support active learning through the selection and use of digital technologies, including D2L, Blackboard Collaborate, and academic integrity tools, including Turnitin, Respondus 4.0 LockDown Browser, and others.

What should faculty do during normally scheduled class time?

Faculty should be online, making themselves readily available to students during their normally scheduled class times. This can range from an open Skype meeting to rapid response to emails and phone calls from students.  Faculty can be working synchronously or asynchronously to deliver remote learning during the times for which they have been assigned. For example, if a faculty member is assigned to teach on Wednesdays from 9:30 AM to 10:45 AM, the faculty member should make themselves readily available online at this time. This may mean that they are delivering synchronous or asynchronous remote instruction Wednesdays from 9:30 AM to 10:45 AM, or, that they are just accessible online to students during this time frame.

Importantly, these class times are the times during which both the students and faculty have already agreed to meet and should remain as assigned. This agreement is a key component of maintaining Academic Continuity and ensuring that additional conflicts are not unintentionally occurring during this time. Students need to know that they can engage faculty, whether through D2L, Blackboard Collaborate, email, phone, or some other mechanism during the time for which they were originally assigned. In response to COVID-19, the College has shifted the place of instruction and learning, not the time.

Importantly, faculty are also required to hold regularly scheduled student office hours. Like the remote instruction times, remote office hours should be published on the syllabus and be consistently held as they would under normal operations. Of course, faculty and students may engage remotely beyond those times, as appropriate to maximize learning.

Modify/Update Course Syllabi

Once new assignments and due dates have been created, changes should be made on each course syllabus. Consider including an opening statement such as the following:

"As part of the college response to COVID-19, this course has been shifted to remote learning starting on Monday, March 23. This change will now require students to log in to the D2L website for course assignments and instruction in the class. Information and updates to the course will be communicated as soon as possible through email and in the D2L course shell. Please note that the course schedule and schedule of assignments have been changed and may be further modified to best achieve the learning outcomes for this class. Please check into the D2L site and email me directly for ongoing updates to the course."

Other considerations in modifying syllabi may include:

  • New course policies in this remote environment
  • The asynchronous and synchronous components of the class
  • Resources to support the transition to the new modality
  • Clear expectations for participation and communication in the new modality
  • Instructions for submitting assignments and activities in the new modality
  • Options for students to make up missed exams or assignments
  • Calculation of grades aligned to the transition to remote learning

Contact your students immediately about how the course will be changing, where to locate course information, and what they should expect from you as the instructor. Even though classes are suspended the week of March 14 through March 22, faculty should still reach out to students. Post an announcement in D2L and send students an email outlining new assignments and due dates, along with how you will provide instruction (conference call, Blackboard Collaborate, D2L, etc.). While the majority of faculty use D2L, others may be using some of the other college-approved web-based platforms.  Whatever the case, be sure to provide students clear, consistent details to avoid confusion. During the transition, students may need more support, more clarity, more directions, and more compassion than usual. Try to find ways to communicate your care and concern for their overall success and well-being.

Share Information: Create a place for students to ask and answer questions. Faculty can create a shared document to collect questions, preferences for office hours, or synchronous meetings. Just be sure students know they should contact you privately with personal or grade related questions. Also, consider creating an open Q&A discussion board for students to share information.

Create Virtual Office Hours: Make yourself available to students using tools such as telephone, email, or Blackboard Collaborate. Be sure to communicate your schedule and expectations about office hours (for example, will you have an open Skype meeting that students can dial into for help, or call you during office hours).

Provide Access to Support: Be aware that students may experience technology or connectivity challenges. Let them know they can seek help from the Broward College Help Desk at (954) 201-7350.

To get started, publish your new materials and provide a clear starting place with directions for moving through the course.

As you implement your plan, remember to be flexible and communicate often.

Provide Interaction - Teaching remotely requires adaptation of face-to-face interaction. Here are some avenues for interaction in an online environment:

  • Chat with students through D2L Chat. Instructors and students can interact in real-time via this text-based conversation tool. Messages in Chat are archived and can be read by any member of the course at any time, so chats do not have to be attended synchronously. This is an easy way to keep all conversations within D2L without introducing additional tools.
  • Asynchronous discussions are collaborative documents that students can contribute to online, ensuring students can interact and engage with peers. Use the discussion feature to facilitate communication, encourage student interaction, pose questions, and reply to discussion posts.
  • Live meetings can be conducted using BlackBoard Collaborate to facilitate office hours, small-class instruction, or student group meetings.

Assess Learning: By linking assignments, discussions, and quizzes to the D2L grade book, students will be easily informed of their progress. Here are some suggestions for adapting different assessment types:

  • Written assignments - essays or research papers may not need modification unless students are expected to collaborate or use library resources. Students may use OneDrive documents to collaborate. Students can use any electronic library resources via the Broward College Library website.
  • Quizzes and exams - Quizzes can be adapted to be taken online via Quizzes in D2L. Quizzes can be timed or scheduled for a certain day or period of time. Students can be granted additional attempts or time based on accommodations. The academic integrity of high-stakes exams offered through D2L can be enhanced through the use of online proctoring services. For questions on how to access and use online proctoring services, please contact the Instructional Design department for more information.
  • Participation and discussions - If collaborative participation is required, consider requiring participation using D2L discussion boards, the chat feature, or other collaboration tools. Participation may not need to be synchronous in these cases.
  • In-class activities - Labs and classroom activities may need significant adaptation for use in an online environment. Consider which aspects of labs can be completed remotely, and search for online experiment tools or software that can replicate parts of your activities. Check with textbook publishers to look for additional free materials as well. Your subject specialist librarian may also be able to assist you in locating open source lab content.

Faculty can use this self-check list to gauge their level of preparedness before transitioning to remote learning.

  • What technology will you use for remote instruction? 
    • Do you have ready access to this technology at home?
  • What type of training have you had to facilitate online learning?
    • What additional training are you seeking?
    • Do you have the contact information of people who can assist you with online learning?
  • Please sketch out your basic plan for delivering this course remotely.
    • How do you plan to assess learning in this remote learning environment?
    • Have you discussed your plan with other colleagues, supervisors or other college experts? 
  • What other assistance can Broward College provide you to help you with Remote Learning?