Teaching, Learning, Technology and Student Success
Academic Calendar for Spring 2021 Semester
As previously announced, the Spring 2021 academic calendar begins on February 1 with classes concluding May 4, and Finals Week ending on May 12. There will be no Spring Break and classes will be held on the two Monday holidays, Presidents’ Day and Patriots’ Day. The campus will observe two Wellbeing Wednesdays when no classes will occur.
Five College Course Registrations
As occurred in the Fall 2020 semester, Five College student enrollments will be limited to fully remote courses only, eliminating the need for students to travel to and from other campuses to attend in-person classes.
Remote Learning Survey of Undergraduate Students
A survey of undergraduate students about their remote learning experiences this fall is being conducted in October. The survey asks about remote learning, internet connectivity, device and technology usage, and questions on student engagement activities, connection with faculty/instructors, and student workload. Results will further inform recommendations and action items for Spring 2021.
- The schools and colleges have identified undergraduate and graduate courses for in-person class delivery, including courses delivered to ensure social distancing with students alternating between face-to-face days and remote days. These include classes, labs, studios, performance and hands-on courses where in-person instruction is critical to achieve learning outcomes, and are required for degree pathways, licensure or accreditation.
- If first-year students are invited to campus to live in the residential halls, it is strongly recommended that as many as possible be prioritized for enrollment in at least one first-year, face-to-face course/instructional opportunity. It is important to provide opportunities for first-year students to connect and engage with the curriculum, the faculty/instructor, their major/school/college, and the university community in-person while living on campus.
- The remaining courses should be fully remote in the spring.
Course Registration and SPIRE
- Courses should be designated in SPIRE as “Face-to-Face Room TBD” or “Fully Remote” so that students will know the course modality when registering for courses.
- Additional information on the level of synchronous and asynchronous activity within the fully remote courses should be provided to students prior to the start of the spring semester.
Academic Classroom, Labs, Studios, Buildings, Space
- The public health protocols in place within the classrooms, labs and studios for fall have been extremely successful and should continue in the spring. Additional building usage involving high-quality instructional space and good air quality should be pursued to accommodate additional face-to-face instruction that may occur in the spring.
- The UMass Center in Springfield and Mount Ida Campus should be explored for curriculum delivery opportunities for students not able to return to the UMass Amherst campus.
- Technology-enabled classrooms (e.g., Echo360) should be assigned preferentially to those courses where instructors plan to engage students on campus and remotely.
- Additional open study spaces for students should be identified if the student population on campus increases.
Teaching and Learning Support
- Instructors should continue using Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and prepare and deliver their fully remote courses following university quality standards and best practices; this should include synchronous instruction/activity, with asynchronous engagement possible for students who study from different time zones or who have other constraints making synchronous participation difficult.
- Face-to-face instructors should prepare for situations where students or the instructor cannot be on campus (e.g., using Echo360 recording, Zoom recording, live streaming, etc.).
- The CTL/IDEAS/IT/Libraries support group should continue to serve as a central hub for instructional support for instructors and teaching assistants of both fully remote and face-to-face courses.
- IT should continue to improve the stability and performance of Moodle and provide a website for students to easily find course-related links to learning tools (e.g., LMS, videoconferencing, etc.).