UMass Flex
UMass Flex

Task Force on Flexible Learning

The Flexible Learning Task Force was active in the Spring 2021 semester. The campus' flexible learning strategy is now led by the Flexible Learning Implementation Committee

 

Chancellor Subbaswamy laid out his vision for a flexible university in this White Paper, and challenged the UMass Amherst community to think critically about the future of our campus and what role flexible instruction and flexible learning should play. The white paper proposed establishing a Task Force on Flexible Learning, charged with drafting a strategic plan that will articulate a vision of future flexible learning for our campus; guiding principles and goals; analysis of our campus’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with respect to flexible learning; recommended action/implementation steps and possible timelines; and success indicators. The Task Force met during Spring 2021, producing the interim and final reports below.

Membership on the Task Force was expansive, with more than 50 members from the campus community including undergraduate and graduates students, faculty from all academic colleges, staff, and representatives from Faculty Senate and Massachusetts Society of Professors. Its work was guided by a series of subgroups on 1.) Instruction, Pedagogy, and Technology, 2.)  Student Experience and Equity, 3.) Workload and Support, 4.) Finances, and 5.) Academic Calendar, Registration, and Facilities. 

The task force completed its work in Spring 2021. The campus's flexible learning strategy is now led by the Implementation Committee.

Task Force Steering Committee

The steering committee was charged with drafting a strategic plan that will articulate 1.) a vision of future flexible learning (FL) for our campus; 2.) guiding principles and goals; 3.) analysis of our campus’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with respect to flexible learning; 4.) recommended action/implementation steps and possible timelines; and 5.) success indicators.

  • Jim Kurose, Associate Chancellor, Partnerships and Innovation and Distinguished University Professor, College of Information and Computer Sciences (co-chair, Steering Committee)
  • Mzamo Mangaliso, Associate Professor, Isenberg School of Management (co-chair, Steering Committee)
  • Steven Brewer, Senior Lecturer, Biology 
  • Rolanda Burney, Chief of Staff, Chancellor
  • Mari Castañeda, Dean, Commonwealth Honors College and Professor, Communication (chair, Student Experience and Equity subgroup)
  • Deb Gould, Associate Provost for Administration and Finance (chair, Finance subgroup)
  • Kate Hudson, Director, Online Education/Digital Learning and Senior Lecturer, College of Education
  • Linda Isbell, Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences (co-chair, Instruction, Pedagogy, and Technology subgroup)
  • Niyanthini Kadirgamar, Graduate Student, Education (PhD)
  • Adam Lechowicz, Undergraduate Student, Computer Science & Political Science
  • Anne Massey, Dean and Thomas O'Brien Endowed Chair Operations & Information Management, Isenberg School of Management (chair, Workload and Support subgroup)
  • Key Nuttall, Chief Marketing Officer, University Relations
  • John Wells, Senior Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning and Professor, Operations and Information Management (chair, Academic Calendar, Registration, and Facilities subgroup)
  • Tilman Wolf, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering (co-chair, Instruction, Pedagogy, and Technology subgroup)

Task Force Subgroups

Instruction, Pedagogy, and Technology

This subgroup explored the faculty-student didactic experience inside the classroom, including issues of adaptable access and engagement in a flexible learning modality, the pedagogies involved, technology needs and limitations, and best practices to support adaptation of course offerings to flexible learning.

  • Tilman Wolf, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering (co-chair)
  • Linda Isbell, Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences (co-chair)
  • Gabrielle Abelard, Clinical Assistant Professor, Nursing
  • Caitlyn Butler, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Allison Butler, Senior Lecturer, Communication
  • Julia Carino, Undergraduate Student, Political Science
  • Claire Hamilton, Associate Provost and Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Ken Kleinman, Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology
  • Christopher Misra, Vice Chancellor and CIO
  • Simon Neame, Dean, University Libraries
  • Sahara Pradhan, Graduate Student, Education (PhD)
  • TreaAndrea Russworm, Associate Professor, English
  • Heather Sharpes-Smith, Executive Director, Online Education Technology, Instructional Design, Engagement and Support (IDEAS)
  • Ramesh Sitaraman, Director, Informatics Program and Professor, Computer Science
  • Pamela Trafford, Senior Lecturer, Isenberg School of Management 
  • Torrey Trust, Associate Professor, Education
  • Dhandapani Venkataraman, Professor, Chemistry
  • Nefertiti Walker, Vice Chancellor, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Student Experience and Equity

    This subgroup explored out-of-classroom needs for flexible learners: How student support services that are primarily on campus could be made accessible to those off campus; steps that could be taken to ensure equity in access to technology in Flexible Learning models; and ways whereby the campus could achieve equitable access to virtual resources similar to the access granted to physical resources on campus.

    • Mari Castañeda, Dean, Commonwealth Honors College and Professor, Communication (chair)
    • Evelyn Ashley, Dean of Students
    • Carolyn Bassett, Associate Provost for Student Success
    • Cheryl Brooks, Associate Provost, Career and Professional Development
    • Jennie Chang, Undergraduate Student, STPEC & Legal Studies
    • Wilma Crespo, Director, CMASS
    • Melissa Rotkiewicz, Director, Interim Associate Director for Clinical Services, CCPH
    • Brad Riley, Graduate Student, MPPA
    • Jeanne Ryan, Associate Director of Clinical Services, UHS
    • Jamina Scippio-McFadden, Director, Springfield Center

    Workload and Support

    This subgroup explored workload and course-load models for Flexible Learning, especially in hybrid classrooms. It explored how faculty workloads could be determined in Flexible Learning course offerings, identifying possible changes to staff workloads, and they examined implications for faculty and class sizes. This subgroup asked what could be learned from past UMass Amherst Flexible Learning programs and explored what other schools have adopted as workload models.

    • Anne Massey, Dean and Thomas O'Brien Endowed Chair Operations & Information Management,, Isenberg School of Management (chair)
    • Bill Brady, Vice Chancellor and CHRO
    • Michael Eagen, Associate Provost for Academic Personnel
    • Jessica Fill, CICS Director of Human Resources
    • Ina Ganguli, Associate Professor, Economics
    • Kate Hudson,  Director, Online Education/Digital Learning and Senior Lecturer, College of Education
    • Anushree Jana, Undergraduate Student, Operations & Information Management and Computer Science
    • Niyanthini Kadirgamar, Graduate Student, Education (PhD)
    • Xinyuan Li, MFA Scenic/Lighting Designer

    Finances

    This subgroup examined the viability of revised tuition models; possible expansion of the student body enabled by Flexible Learning; and the financial implications of instructional technology resources and faculty training, as well as providing high-quality student support services to off-campus students.

    • Deb Gould, Associate Provost for Administration and Finance (chair)
    • Michael Ash, Professor, Economics and Public Policy
    • Bill Brown, Associate Dean for Finance, Operations & Strategic Initiatives, Isenberg School of Management
    • Barbara Krauthamer, Dean, College of Humanities & Fine Arts and Professor, History
    • Lynn McKenna, Budget Director, Administration and Finance
    • Jim Roche, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management
    • John Wells, Senior Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning and Professor, Operations and Information Management

      Academic Calendar, Registration, and Facilities 

      This subgroup examined possible changes to academic calendars, including summer course offerings, changes to add/drop timelines, and final exam schedules; admissions processes; and registration capacities. It is also investigated and made recommendations for ways of adapting registration capabilities to Flexible Learning, such that students could register for classes in any of several different modes (e.g., in-person always, mixed in-person/online, and online-only).

      • John Wells, Senior Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning and Professor, Operations and Information Management (chair)
      • Shane Conklin, Associate Vice Chancellor, Facilities and Campus Services
      • Jeff Cournoyer, Managing Director, Mount Ida Campus
      • Farshid Hajir, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
      • Patrick Sullivan, Registrar
      • Kate Woodmansee, Senior Associate Registrar, Graduate School and University Without Walls