Are there resources for teaching fully online courses that meet the University Quality Standards?

Some of the classes offered Fall 2021 will be fully online. The university has established Quality Standards for these courses and the Center for Teaching and Learning, Instructional Design Engagement and Support, Information Technology and the Libraries provide a central website, FlexForward to Online Teachingwith teaching resources to support fall instruction.Tell us what you need help with HERE. 

The Instructional Design, Engagement, & Support (IDEAS) group and the Instructional Media Lab consultants are available to assist all UMass Amherst faculty, instructors, and TAs with the instructional, pedagogical, and technological services in their academic practice. From one-on-one and departmental consults and faculty development workshops to support for course design and development, IDEAS is here to help you present the best and most flexible versions of your educational programs to reach all students in any mode.

  • Contact instruct@umass.edu to set up a consultation with an Instructional Designer or to inquire about faculty development opportunities.
  • The Online Faculty Development website will guide those new to online teaching at UMass.
  • Help for Instructors is an online resource that provides a list of resources, training videos, and answers to frequently asked questions.
  • View calendar of our workshops for faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants that introduce technologies for teaching and research. 

How do I manage my courses (class roster, schedules, email my whole class, grades)?

UMass uses the SPIRE system for all course management activities, and instructors can manage their courses through the SPIRE Faculty  Center. You will need your NetID to access SPIRE. If you have any issues, you can email for help at: spire-support@it.umass.edu.

Why are students’ pronouns appearing in my class rosters and advisee lists?

UMass is committed to the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups and ensuring a respectful, safe, and inclusive campus. Students have the opportunity to indicate their pronouns so that professors may use the appropriate pronoun (he/him, she/her, they/them, ze/hir, name only). The Stonewall Center has put together a collection of resources to help faculty respect the gender identities of their students.

How do I know what to put in my syllabus?

The UMass Amherst Office of Academic Planning & Assessment (OAPA) has created a Syllabus Construction Tool. You can schedule a syllabus consultation through the Center for Teaching and Learning. You can also view the “Instructor’s Roles and Responsibilities” section of the Disability Services’ Faculty Handbook, which details how faculty should make their syllabus and course accessible to students.

What teaching-related workshops can I attend?

Check the Center for Teaching and Learning calendar for upcoming teaching workshops scheduled throughout the academic year.

What teaching supports are available through the libraries?  

The UMass Libraries staff are available to consult on finding library resources, developing tailored instruction sessions that enhance students’ research skills, providing instruction sessions on the use of library databases and effective academic research strategies, and placing material on course reserves.  Below are links to resources:

What learning management systems are available for my course instruction?

Faculty at UMass may use either Moodle or Blackboard as the learning management system for their courses. Requests for Blackboard and Moodle are done through SPIRE. Email instruct@umass.edu for help.

How do I order textbooks for my courses?

eCampus is the official university bookstore and provides support for faculty in accessing and ordering textbooks. Faculty are expected to enter their course material adoptions through eCampus. All instructors/faculty should identify and list all text materials on SPIRE for their courses. This allows students to know which texts are needed so they can obtain materials in the format that is needed for the student.

What resources are available to support faculty in their teaching?

The Center for Teaching and Learning  offers a variety of workshops, individual consultations, and a mid-semester assessment program to assist faculty in their instruction. In addition, CTL facilitates the MSP funded Flex Grant program which provides funding for faculty instruction projects.

What resources are available to support student learning?

  • The Learning Resource Center provides peer tutoring in both study skills and academic subjects.
  • The Learning Commons is a space on the lower level of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library that brings together academic, technology, and library support.
  • The Writing Center offers one-on-one consultations to students on their writing projects, providing feedback and strategies at any stage of the writing process. The Writing Center also supports faculty in designing writing assignments and in-class writing activities.
  • The UMass Amherst Online Student Orientation and Resource Center is an online resource area that provides online students with access to orientation opportunities including orientation webinars and an online orientation course. The Resource Center also provides access to technical support documentation, and other support resources for students taking online courses in the Blackboard LMS.
  • Student Success offers study skills workshops for students across all departments and disciplines.

What resources are available to support students emotional and behavioral concerns?

Where can my students go for assistance on multimedia projects and presentations?

The Digital Media Lab, on the third floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, is a multimedia production space available to students working on course-related presentations, projects, and portfolios. The lab’s Innovation Center includes 50 3-D printers. Equipment and support services are also offered for 360 video, augmented, and virtual reality projects.

How can I gather student feedback on my teaching?

Faculty can request a Midterm Assessment Process (MAP) through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) which is a confidential and voluntary service to gather student feedback on a course while the course is in progress. MAPs may be conducted in small, medium, and large-sized classes and the feedback goes directly to, and only to, the instructor.

What resources are available for addressing student accommodations in my course design?

The Instructional Design, Engagement and Support (IDEAS)  group offer opportunities to learn how to make courses, materials, and presentations accessible. CTL offers guidance on implementing Universal Design in creating course design and curriculum.

Is there any funding available for the professional development of teaching?

Faculty can apply for a Flex Grant to support faculty professional development related to teaching. Flex Grants are funded by the campus through the MSP contract, and awarded by CTL.

What is the university’s policy on academic dishonesty?

If you suspect a student of academic dishonesty, contact the Ombuds Office within 10 days of your suspicion. For a more detailed overview of your options, see the Academic Honesty Policy

UMass has a subscription to Turnitin, a plagiarism prevention service that detects textual matches between student papers and other documents available in electronic form on the Internet, in subscription databases, and in databases of other student papers. For more information visit the Libraries’ page on Plagiarism Prevention or contact: turnitin@library.umass.edu.