Recommendations of the Provost’s Ad Hoc Committee on Online Teaching, in consultation with Baruch’s Department Chairs and other Stakeholders.
Revised August 2020.
Note: The document is guidance that Baruch chairs and course coordinators can adapt and use in advising their colleagues on what embodies online teaching at Baruch. This document might be modified to suit the instructional needs and context of an individual department or set of courses as the committee acknowledges that any specific guidelines should be established within a department.
Teaching in a distance learning environment during the COVID-19 crisis can be challenging but can also present opportunities for innovation. To ensure that students have a full learning experience, we would like to offer examples of approaches instructors might take. There are many ways to achieve minimum expectations through a variety of technological and pedagogical choices that may depend on the course and department. (For example, in some courses all sections have a common final; in some departments all faculty are expected to use Blackboard.) Members of the faculty are strongly encouraged to speak to their colleagues to learn about departmental practices. Faculty are also welcome to consult with the Center for Teaching Learning to learn more about teaching practices and technology options.
Content Delivery and Instruction
Professors should provide direct instruction (e.g., teaching, facilitating classroom conversations, giving live student feedback—as opposed to asking students merely to read texts or watch videos by others as substitutes for their own instruction). Students value their interactions with their instructor, so at least half of the course material should be taught through one or more of the following methods and modalities:
- Synchronous live lecture (e.g., Zoom, Webex, Blackboard Collaborate, etc.). The instructor’s online lectures should be recorded and made available for students to access asynchronously as well. When they are not recorded, alternative means for students to learn the material should be provided. These might include, for example, access to the instructor’s notes/slides or other materials.
- Please note that CUNY has informed us that faculty may not require students to turn on web cameras for classes.
- Faculty who intend to record synchronous class sessions are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the recording feature and its various settings so that they minimize students faces and names being recorded. Here are instructions on Blackboard Collaborate and also on using Zoom.
- For asynchronous (or as aspects of some synchronous classes) consider providing instruction using techniques such as:
- Narrated PowerPoint slides
- Pre-recorded video lectures
- Short instructional videos by instructor
- Audio/video sessions with instructor-generated documents and resources such as:
- Detailed examples written by instructor
- Extensive notes or step-by-step instructions prepared by instructor
- Active learning sessions (with audio/video) wherein instructors employ one or many of the active learning techniques (such as those discussed at https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/ctl/active-learning/)
- Asynchrous discussion boards and blogs.
Professors should strive to be flexible, providing ways for students who are not able to engage in a synchronous class session due to technical, family, or covid-related issues with a way to still engage in the course. Examples might include:
- Recording of class sessions
- Collaborative note-taking
- Developing a discussion board
Faculty who teach courses in which controversial or personal topics are discussed should try to design their courses to be sensitive to the fact that some students might prefer or need to have privacy. Faculty are encouraged to explore technological and pedagoical approaches and can reach out to the CTL to discuss options.
A minimum of one hour per week per class (outside of the regular class time) should be set for office hours. Additional hours may be set by appointment. During office hours, the instructor should be available live/synchronously via one or more of the following:
- Video/audio live conferencing (e.g., Zoom or Webex)
- Live participation in a chat platform (e.g., Slack, Discord, Microsoft Teams, discussion board, email)
Assessment and Engagement
Course should include:
- Clear specifications of learning goals, deliverables, milestones, and how they will be assessed
- Clear statements on attendance policies and assessment of participation
- When students are not able to participate synchronously, try other ways of assessing their participation, such as: updates, reflections, or journals; low-stakes written reflections on course content via discussion board or blog posts; low-stakes completion of sample problems or quizzes. Click here for more examples and for suggestions from the CTL on attendance and participation.
Grading and feedback
Grading rubric and weights should be clearly stated on syllabus and the syllabus should be posted to the course site (Blackboard, Blogs@Baruch, etc.) at the start of the course.
Academic Integrity expectations and policy should be clearly articulated. The policy should include a range of potential academic sanctions.
Students should be given clear instruction as to written papers, exams or other assignments, such as, no collaboration, collaboration invited, and/or open book/open note/open source.
At a minimum, instructors should aim to communicate with students on a weekly basis throughout the semester.
Moreover, it should be clear from the beginning of the term, and included in the syllabus:
- Which portions/sections/aspects of the course will be synchronous or asynchronous
- If they should read or view items in a particular order
- What deliverables are expected (e.g., assignments, homework, exams, etc.)
- Due dates
- Consequences for missing or late work; options for partial credit and making up work.
- Tutorials, instructions, or links that explain to students how to use required materials.
- Academic Integrity expectations and policies
- How the student can reach out to the instructor with any questions
- Estimation of the time it might take to respond to student questions
- When and how office hours will be held
- Hardware and software requirements for the course
Any changes to the above should be communicated in a timely fashion.
Working with Students
Instructors should be aware that Baruch students often face difficult circumstances for a successful distance learning environment. They should always approach student issues and concerns with compassion and understanding, to the extent possible.
Students with Disabilities
You might have a student in your class who has a disability. Sharing your notes and slides, as well as adhering to the CUNY IT Accessibility Policy, which ensures all instructional material, videos, and web-based content is accessible, will go a long way in reaching ALL students in the class in this distance learning environment. Students registered with Student Disability Services (SDS) will communicate that to the instructor by email. SDS works with faculty and with students. Please reach out to: Disability.firstname.lastname@example.org.