SUBJECT: Summer/Fall Updates from the Provost!
It is good to be in touch.
Time for an update and some reminders as we have made it through the epic Winter term 2020 and are well launched now into Summer I (this despite the occasional snow showers). I hope everyone is doing well and taking good care of themselves and theirs…
This is a long-ish message (apologies), so here are the points covered:
• Summer is Asynchronous
• Fall 2020 Planning
• Academic Integrity Issues
• Campus Expectations for Canvas Use
Summer is Asynchronous
We have received some very sad messages from students in summer courses who are being told they must be ‘attending lectures’ at regular, specific, synchronous times - even though that was not made clear when they registered for the class (as you know, we have no set course times in the schedule for Summer I and Summer II). This is manifestly adding distress and hardship to students’ lives as they continue to juggle other pressures and family needs, and has led to students dropping classes — the last thing we want for any number of reasons. Please make it possible for students to access course materials in their own time; if you wish to gather students together, please if possible make more than one occasion possible to attend and do not penalize students who cannot join in.
Fall 2020 Planning
The Big Question, naturally. As outlined in the Town Hall of May 12th, a team (led by Ilir Miteza and Mitch Sollenberger) has been developing a range of possible scenarios for teaching in the fall term, guided by recommendations from the State of Michigan, the CDC, public health professionals and our University of Michigan colleagues. These scenarios range from bringing some classes to campus (if needed for fully effective instruction), to hybrid models (remote asynchronous with some synchronous presence on campus; remote asynchronous with some remote synchronous), to fully online, asynchronous teaching. The intent is to preserve the capacity to undertake synchronous final examinations. Fall 2020 Planning provides additional information, and more will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.
What is already clear, however — and this is a vital point — is that teaching in the fall will take place online: either fully or partially online, for the great majority of our Dearborn courses. I urge faculty to take this fact on board and start to prepare. We also must remember that, depending on the course of the pandemic, we may have to pirouette to fully online training, even for courses we had hoped to be hybrid. We must be ready for that eventuality.
The good news is that advice and assistance are available from various sources; the Hub for Teaching and Learning is now offering Fall 2020 Online Course Design and Remote Teaching Support; training sessions have been developed by the Hub and Digital Education teams for faculty, please check these out. As always, faculty can drop in any Thursday from 11am to noon for the Digital Education Virtual Office Hours or do the same for the Hub on any Thursday from 10am to 11am. In addition to these resources, each college has various initiatives ongoing, led by college-based Digital Education Ambassadors.
Please reach out and share ideas and seek advice. It is essential that we continue to provide our students high quality and engaged education, and we have to get on this — now.
Academic Integrity Issues
In the novel conditions in which we now operate, opportunities for lapses in academic integrity have become more possible, and we saw an unfortunate fluorescence of such behavior in the Winter term 2020. While there is no easy ‘solve’ to this intractable (and widely shared) problem, there are various countermeasures we can and must take.
First, the training and support offered by the Hub and Digital Education includes information for dealing with academic integrity issues, including ways to create ‘authentic’ assessments. There is significant and growing evidence that designing alternative modes of testing is the best way to discourage and avoid misconduct, as reviewed in a previous message. In particular, I urge faculty to review the “Final Exam Strategies” document developed by the Office of the Provost and Hub for Teaching and Learning this past winter. It provides guidance and cautions against using online, proctored exams. I reiterate that the use of surveillance technology, or e-proctoring, continues to be strongly discouraged on the Dearborn campus. In addition, the University of Rutgers and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor have helpful websites that provide information around final exams and alternative assessments.
Second, faculty may use the Academic Integrity Module housed on the university's webpage that provides students with a tutorial about plagiarism and the campus’s policy on academic integrity, along with a quiz to test for their understanding of the information provided. Faculty have the ability to access the Academic Integrity Module quiz results.
Third, there is an importable module in Canvas Commons to teach UM-Dearborn students about our campus academic integrity standards so they are informed about how to avoid academic misconduct and plagiarism. If you would like to use the module in your course(s), please search for "UM-Dearborn Academic Integrity" in Canvas Commons and follow these steps to import it to your course. If you have any questions, please contact Belen Garcia (email@example.com).
Fourth, Dean Amy Finley will be working with our new Student Government president, Mitchell Dobson-Green, on finding ways to involve student thought leaders in combating this problem.
Other ideas are in development, and I will keep you updated. Please let me know if you have any strategies of your own, or other advice!
Campus Expectations for Canvas Use
With the transition of all instruction to remote teaching in Winter and Summer 2020, and with continued uncertainty around possible similar future disruptions, use of the common learning management system (LMS) – Canvas – for all of our courses has become more important than ever. A message will be forthcoming shortly from Ilir Miteza and Chris Casey outlining a series of campus-wide expectations for Canvas use as recommended by the Digital Education Subcommittee of the UCDC in April 2020.
Finally — I am bummed not to be able to see more of people and to hear your thoughts about how things are going and our opportunities for the future of UM-Dearborn. I am giving some thought as to how to hold such conversations, as (hopefully) life calms down a little bit.
With all my best wishes, and thanks for all you do.