Community Update #34 COVID-19 - Planning for Fall and Supports for Remote Teaching

We know the significant disruption of academic life brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty for all members of our community, including instructors as they think ahead to the Fall term. Unfortunately, we do not yet have clarity from the government regarding when and how the current physical distancing regulations may be lifted to allow a gradual return to in-person teaching.

As we look ahead, our continued success relies on doing everything we can to keep providing the high-quality learning experiences for which York is known. As you plan and develop your Fall academic curricula, given that the need for physical distancing will likely continue for some time, it is clear that most courses will need to be delivered to students at least in part using remote/online/flexible teaching techniques. Senate Executive has confirmed principles to guide Fall course planning which ensure that we will continue to prioritize health and safety and accommodate a range of student circumstances, while creating flexibility for instructors to plan for a return to in-person learning activities when possible: https://secretariat.info.yorku.ca/files/May-6-Communication.pdf?x90988

For many of you, this may be the first time you will be using online/remote learning, or if you have used it before, you may not be as familiar with or as comfortable using online/remote learning platforms as you would like to be.

In order to help our course directors and TAs prepare for the Fall term, the University has brought together a suite of programs and resources that are being enhanced over the summer months.

These supports include:

  • York’s Teaching Commons:
    • Intensive professional development: featuring a comprehensive menu of learning programs for instructors with different levels of experience and ambition.
    • One-on-one support: provided by an expanded team of staff, faculty and student advisors and mentors.
    • Web-based Resources: Watch the “Going Remote” website with best practice teaching tips, presentation tools and commonly asked questions about online teaching. There are also links to Faculty-based resources, and Learning Technology Services for additional online guides and tutorials on how best to use Moodle.
  • York Faculties:
    Faculties are developing and enhancing in-house supports to provide more program-specific advice and assistance and will be disseminating information internally on the supports available.
  • Teaching Assistant Supports for Remote Course Delivery:
    The Teaching Commons has a suite of ongoing and upcoming programming for Teaching Assistants to assist them in remote delivery of courses. All resources can be found on the Teaching Commons website and course directors can refer their TAs to the site: Resources for TAs Teaching Remotely.
  • Assessment:
    The Going Remote site offers guidance on how to create online assessments, including quizzes and tests delivered through Moodle. For those courses that require a proctored online examination, the University will be providing instructors with access to Proctortrack software this summer and fall (note that Senate Executive has approved changes to the core required information that must be included in course outlines to disclose to students if the evaluation scheme includes an online proctored exam: https://secretariat.info.yorku.ca/files/May-6-Communication.pdf?x39162).

I urge you to take advantage of these supports in preparing for the Fall term. Being ready to deliver courses remotely/online to the extent it remains necessary this Fall will ensure students can progress and thrive in their programs while we protect everyone's health and safety.

Once again, I want to thank all instructors for your efforts to maintain our excellent academic programs in these unprecedented conditions.

Lisa Philipps
Provost & Vice-President Academic