Important Message from the President
April 3, 2020
To All ASU Employees:
In response to the announcement of a statewide stay-at-home order issued by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama State University will close all offices as of Saturday, April 4 through Thursday, April 30. Only essential personnel will work on campus during this time. You will be contacted by your supervisor as to whether or not you are considered to be essential in terms of this closure.
The relevant part of Governor Ivey’s official order states the following: “Effective Saturday, April 4, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., every person is ordered to stay at his or her place of residence except as necessary...”
ASU employees who are considered “non-essential” will now shift to teleworking from home under the Alabama State University Guidelines for Telework/Staggered Work Schedule and the Telework/Staggered Work Memorandum of Agreement that were issued to all employees on March 23, 2020. Supervisors will coordinate with their staff to develop work plans for those who are able to work from their residences. Please be reminded that this time is not to be considered as paid leave time, but rather those who are able to work from home are expected to do so. If you elect to take annual or sick leave during this time, you must complete the appropriate forms and forward those to your supervisor for approval.
Please note: If you have not signed or do not sign the telework agreement, you are not considered to be “on the clock” during the period that the campus is closed. In order to be paid for this time, you will need to use your annual leave or your sick leave (as documented by your doctor if it is beyond three days).
Employees are also expected to check their University email daily for updates and important announcements.
The University will continue to provide all academic services for current students during this period. Online and alternative course delivery will continue, as well as academic advisement. Even under these challenging circumstances, we will carry out the University’s primary mission—the education of our students.
Your safety and well-being are of primary concern; therefore, we encourage the ASU family to follow the governor’s order and remain at home except for essential activities. As a matter of fact, the mandate to shelter-at-home is the law.
Please follow CDC guidelines, particularly maintaining the social distancing of 6 feet and practicing personal hygiene that focuses on washing your hands frequently.
Finally, I urge you to “Be aware. Be safe. Be Hornet Strong!”
President Quinton T. Ross, Jr.
Alabama State University Moving to Alternative and Online Instruction in Response to COVID-19
This section is designed to help faculty and adjuncts consider several things as they are teaching online. We’ve tried to provide as many resources as possible focusing on the most common teaching practices that are effective in an online environment. Below you will find general advice about teaching in online environment, and additional tips on student engagement, with a variety of resources to help during the transition. There are videos that you are able to participate in on increasing student engagement and participation in Mentor Commons. We understand you may be experiencing anxiety around everything that is happening. Alabama State University is dedicated to ensuring the continuity of instruction and students having the opportunity to be successful during this transition. As always, we are here to help faculty and students complete the semester successfully.
General Advice Teaching Remotely
Take advantage of this difficult time to experiment with new teaching methods and tools. This is an opportunity to be innovative. Although the online environment removes access to certain modes of teaching, it opens up a number of new possibilities, some of which you may be able to bring back to your physical classroom once the crisis is over.
Focus on the pedagogy, not just the platform: the attributes of a physical classroom don’t guarantee that a class is effective or engaging. The same goes for online platforms. Time spent now thinking about how you want to teach using this technology will be time well spent. In particular, we encourage you to think about which of your classroom-teaching strategies translate well to the remote setting, which don't, and what new approaches you might incorporate.
Academic Calendar: ASU is adhering to the academic calendar to maintain as much consistency as possible including when grades are due.
Office Hours: Faculty need to maintain office hours, and be available to meet with students virtually. If students remain in town and request a face-to-face meeting, please inform them of the campus closure, and to ensure their safety, it would be best to meet in an online setting.
Calendar Tools: To ensure that we are being proactive in allowing students who want to speak with someone synchronously, it’s helpful to use an automatic scheduling tool (e.g. Calendly or Youcanbookme) to plan for meetings.
Communication: It is important that we remain in consistent and frequent communication. Therefore, please communicate with your students through Blackboard announcements, messages, and their ALASU email, as these are the official means of communication. Faculty and adjuncts are required to respond to student communications, discussion boards, or other methods of communication within 24-48 hours. As always you can you can find new updates on the ASU website, and you can visit https://www.alasu.edu/coronavirus for additional updates as they become available.
It is required that all faculty
Determine your priorities: as you think about continuing instruction online, consider what you can realistically accomplish.
Do you think you can maintain your original syllabus?
What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online?
Will you emphasize some things and de-emphasize others in order to add engagement and accountability?
Keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations.
Don’t expect to master everything on day 1: you will learn (fast). Your students will learn (even faster). You may even want to recognize this fact explicitly with your students, and invite their ideas for how to engage with/structure the technology for your particular course.
Discussion boards for asynchronous forums:
Not all classroom discussions need to be synchronous. In these cases, Blackboard has a discussion forum feature. Decide what kind of discussions will be most beneficial to your course: topic-driven or social-driven. Your discussion prompts and how you evaluate your students’ responses should reflect that decision.
Topic-driven: this type of discussion board works especially well for highlighting readings or helping your students focus on key parts of your course content. Provide specific conversation points and prompts that may relate to a reading or a lecture. Make sure to build in space for reflection or debate in your discussion prompts. Students should want to know what their classmates are thinking about!
Social-driven: this type of discussion board works especially well if you want your students to connect the course with current events or their own projects or work. Your discussion board serves as a digital “water cooler” for your class. Your discussion prompts can be more general, such as asking them to post about the specific topic of the week.
Have students to respond to each other as well as the instructor.
Students have a range of abilities, and not everyone will disclose: there are likely students in your course with learning or sensory disabilities. They are not required to tell you, and they may not feel comfortable telling anyone. Rather than asking these students to identify themselves to you, employ practices (like those below) that reach a wide variety of learners.
Text is universal: assistive technologies (such as screen readers, magnifiers, etc.) are nearly always designed to work with text. If you send images to your students, include descriptions.
Some students need additional processing time: don’t expect everyone to understand after being told once.
Lab Instruction: For faculty teaching labs, please investigate virtual labs: online resources and virtual tools might help replicate the experience of some labs (e.g., virtual dissection, night sky apps, video demonstrations of labs, simulations, YouTube videos). Those vary widely by discipline, but check with your textbook publisher, or sites for materials that might help replace parts of your lab during the closure. Please communicate with students as soon as possible the expectations and requirements within reason about how work will be conducted for their specific lab class.
Maintaining Course Syllabus: Try to maintain your syllabus as closely as possible.
Levi Watkins Learning Center: The Levi Watkins Learning Center will not open doors for public, but will provide the following services:
Provide Information/Reference/Research Consultation via Live Chat, SMS, Email, and Telephone to help faculty and students for classes needs
Provide online instructions (via Blackboard, LiveChat, Libguide, etc.) to search materials in subscribed Databases and deliver available resources
Digitize frequently requested Course Reserve Books, provide online access for ASU students
Liaison for each college will be the contact person when there is a need for physical library materials from any faculty member. LWLC will prepare the materials and make an appointment for faculty to pick up
Library will continue Interlibrary loan services for faculty
Library Online Catalog, Databases are available 24/7 for remote access
Technology Ideas for Faculty Communication: Given the new paradigm of using technology to “go to class,” students may need more help with technology. A list of other options will be sent out to faculty via email. Additionally, please consider the following:
- Google Chat
- Microsoft 360 Office Suite (Free ASU)
- Free Conference Call
- Blackboard Collaborate
Online instructional support and resources are located: https://www.alasu.