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Message to Academic Affairs (sent to Faculty on 03/25/2020)

I am writing today to share some information as you all prepare to restart Bradley classes next week.  Let me begin by thanking you for the extraordinary pivot you have had to make in order to deliver your classes online by next week. I have said it numerous times before, it is the people at Bradley who make it such an amazing institution, and you are proving that once again.  

This is not how any of us wanted or expected this semester to proceed.  We are (with a few exceptions) experiencing the most significant global event of our lifetimes.  In addition to the disruption of our work life we are experiencing the disruption of almost every facet of our daily experience.  I know this is creating anxiety for the entire Bradley family, but take some solace in knowing that we are in this together and we will get through this together.  

University leaders are doing their best to navigate through this unprecedented storm and we ask for your continued patience as we do so. I met with the Deans yesterday and I have asked them to share much of what we spoke about with you. I will share some of that information with you now and I will ask the Deans to share the remainder through the Department Chairs.  

We have less than one week before classes resume, so as you get ready to teach your classes I want to provide information to help you understand the direction we are trying to go. 

1.  We do not expect you to be experts at teaching online. This will be a major adjustment for some and that is why we have been providing training over the previous two weeks and will have additional training available for you this week. Those begin today and you may register for the workshops here. Links to the virtual workshops will be emailed at least one hour prior to the session with instructions on how to connect.

  • Bongo & Panopto for Course Continuity; 9:00-9:50AM on Wednesday, March 25
  • Sakai for Course Continuity; 10:00-10:50AM on Wednesday, March 25
  • Zoom & Google Meet for Business Continuity; 11:00-11:50AM on Wednesday, March 25
  • Sakai for Course Continuity; 1:00-1:50PM on Thursday, March 26
  • Bongo & Panopto for Course Continuity: 2:00-2:50PM on Thursday, March 26
  • Zoom & Google Meet for Business Continuity: 3:00-3:50PM on Thursday, March 26

Questions related to these workshops or the technologies you have access to, may be directed to techtraining@fsmail.bradley.edu. You may also call the IT Service Desk at (309) 677-2964  between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm for direct help with course related technology. Please also remember the Course Continuity Guide that we shared with faculty earlier. It has links to repositories filled with video-based and text-based tutorials. I highly recommend that you engage in at least one practice session using the technology. Like anything new, practice is helpful.  

2. Many students will gravitate to Sakai so we encourage you to utilize Sakai as much as possible. At a minimum, your syllabus must be posted on Sakai.  

3.  It is critical that we engage our students and provide them with every opportunity to succeed. Your own experiences of anxiety, fear, and confusion these past few weeks are almost certainly magnified in our students. Before classes begin on Monday, March 30, please reach out to your students and let them know how you will be teaching your classes and where they will be able to connect with you. I believe such communication will be reassuring to your students.  We have told them to watch for communication from you this week. It is important that you email the following details to every student in each course. Please make every effort to send this message by Thursday March 26. 

  • Syllabus – a current electronic copy of the course syllabus.
  • Transition Communication – where course materials are located or how materials will be distributed, and methods of communication.
  • Lectures – if lecturing will be used, describe how lectures will be distributed (e.g., live video using Bongo, pre-recorded video using Panopto, etc.)
  • Assignments – how will assignments be collected (e.g., email, drop box, etc.)
  • Assessment/Grading –how will students be assessed and how will grades be shared (e.g., Test and Quizzes through Sakai, Gradebook through Sakai, etc.).

We have resources prepared to help students transition to this new way of learning. This document outlines information that will help as they get started with taking classes online, navigating Sakai and Bongo, preparing for exams and tips on holding themselves accountable.  Please share this with them.  

4. If you haven’t set up virtual office hours, please do so. It will be important to let your students know when you are available and the best way to reach you (e.g. Google Hangouts, Google Meet, conference calls, etc). Also, check your office voicemail regularly and keep up on emails.  

5. We requested and received a waiver from the Department of Education that will allow us to compress the semester. That means we will stick to the semester schedule and not make-up the week of instruction that became our extra week of spring break. I apologize that I was not able to share this sooner, but we just received the waiver yesterday.

6. We are looking at changing a variety of deadlines (e.g. midterm grades, drop date, etc).  Those decisions are in process and we hope to have information about this early next week.  We have, however, decided to delay advising and early registration by one week.  The academic advising start will move from April 6 to April 13, and the early registration start will move from April 9 to April 16.

We are also working on a plan to redeploy some staff to assist with student engagement efforts for the remainder of the semester. These engagement efforts will probably involve direct student outreach by them on behalf of Bradley. This is an essential task because now more than ever we need to keep our students engaged and ensure they are keeping up with their studies so they don’t fall behind. You are on the front lines, so please watch for any signs that may indicate they are in need of extra help. If a student is absent or isn't participating, please use the Navigate system to report it. We will provide you more information on this as our plans quickly develop over the course of this week.

I know this is a heavy responsibility and there are many moving parts. There is no way of knowing when we’ll be back to our normal routines or what the new normal will be. But rest assured, we are here for you. All of Bradley’s faculty, staff, administrators and students are in the same virtual boat. This is the time for the Bradley family to come together. Let’s support one another and help each other where we can.  If a colleague is struggling please lend a hand. If a student needs extra assistance, find a way to help them. I am confident the return to classes (even online) will help all of us get a sense of normalcy to our lives. 

Good luck and thank you!


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