We write to thank our entire campus community for your hard work, resiliency and adaptability over the past several days as things changed, and changed quickly. Your efforts have been nothing short of inspiring.
As we move all our instruction to remote platforms, we realize there will be hiccups — questions and concerns from faculty and students, students taking online courses for the first time and faculty teaching online for the first time. More specific guidance on teaching and learning will continue to come from the Provost’s office, with more resources forthcoming tomorrow.
In the meantime, let’s remember to be mindful of each of other, and to be considerate and patient with students, faculty and staff who are asking questions we cannot yet answer. Let’s also remember to be flexible in the ways in which we offer instruction and assessment.
We want you to know that we understand your concerns and frustrations, particularly in terms of the transition to fully remote instruction for the rest of the spring semester. As President Choi and the four University of Missouri System chancellors shared earlier today, Monday begins a soft launch of our new remote learning platforms. During the week of March 16 – 20, we will not penalize students for missed connections, assignments, tests or quizzes. This means faculty may decide to continue with assessments, but if a student is unable to connect or has other technical issues, we ask for flexibility from our faculty to make accommodations. We also ask patience from our students, who may see problems with course presentation or delivery.
Many of you already know that we have been offering high-quality online courses and degrees for a number of years at MU and are ready to meet this new challenge. At the same time, we recognize that if you have not taken a remote course, this experience will be different. For some of you whose course work involves a lab experience, a clinical rotation or experiential learning in a health clinic or in the community, we are working to preserve these experiences to the extent they are essential and to replace them when they are not. In all cases, your instructors will be the primary points of contact, followed by the department chairs and the deans. Know that we are working hard so you will continue to have high-quality educational experiences.
Please consult the UM System “Keep Learning” site for more information on sources of support.
Students, we are also working hard to determine how to provide information about the financial aspects of our new reality, and we will provide reimbursement information to you as soon as it is available. More information on this will be forthcoming and will be shared on the MU Alert website and other communications.
FACULTY AND INSTRUCTORS
We are so impressed at how you are rising to meet this challenge. The speed of this outbreak and our need to adapt has truly been unprecedented, and we know that we have not always had the opportunity to distribute information as we normally would. We also know that while many of you have experience with distance learning, for others this is new. We have a comprehensive support page for instructors, which we encourage you to consult. Also, feel free to reach out to your department chairs and deans, who continue to organize support at the unit level.
As we do this, let’s be considerate of students who may be taking a remote course for the first time. Establishing a clear communications plan to deal with challenges will be key — we are doing our best to update information on specific issues like proctoring, asynchronous teaching and more. Also, keep in mind accessibility issues. To reiterate our earlier suggestions:
- Communications: All faculty should establish a communications plan with their students, letting them know when they will be available, how quickly they will respond and in what form they will respond.
- Accessibility: This includes both students’ ability to access the necessary technologies (computer, internet access, etc.) as well as any accessibility issues that come into play in the online format.
- Bandwidth for students: Students may have challenges with bandwidth on their end and being flexible in assessments will be important.
Please know that we could not make any of these changes without you. We know that you are taking calls from students, faculty and parents; offering support; helping instructors move classes online; and doing everything you can to make sure our university is functioning. We also want to give our thanks to our staff in facilities, dining, operations, safety and other areas who are on the ground making sure the university can maintain its normal operations. We salute you for the resilience and commitment you have shown.
We will have to do things differently in the coming weeks — our agility and our willingness to adapt will be critical. We know that with your support, we can do it. We plan to provide regular updates to you and to all members of our community. We have no doubt that we will work through this challenge together and that we will emerge as a stronger university.
Alexander N. Cartwright, PhD
Latha Ramchand, PhD
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs