Faculty Update: COVID-19 Preparations and New Information

March 18th, 2020 - 12:02pm
The following is an email sent to faculty on behalf of the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Learning and Success


Dear College of Marin Faculty:
I am writing with updates and additional information as the start of remote instruction approaches. This message includes new information about

  1. Your preparatory steps;
  2. Provision of services to support your teaching and student learning, and;
  3. What to expect in the coming days.

As you read in the President’s latest message to the College community, we will be providing remote instruction at least through April. Given the Governor’s remarks yesterday, this could be extended even further. We are additionally confined by the order shelter at home, which has led virtually all employees to transition their work to remote formats. While all of this is less than ideal and none of it is what any of us signed on for when we chose to work in higher education, I have been particularly impressed by how this situation has shone a light on significant creativity within the faculty and highlighted the dedication of staff who have been working tirelessly this week to prepare for remote instruction and student support come March 23. 

1. Your preparatory steps

I want to draw your attention to three items as you prepare to start remote instruction.
The first is an article about what teachers learned over the past month scrambling to convert to remote instruction in China. While geared toward K-12, I think you will find it helpful: https://www.edutopia.org/article/what-teachers-china-have-learned-past-month.
The second item is a short ‘screencast’ created by Stacey Lince about COM ConferZoom-Canvas Integration: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cYeb1VxC9G. If you are not yet comfortable with integrating Zoom into Canvas, this should do the trick.
The third is a checklist designed to ensure instructional continuity starting March 23rd. All faculty should have completed (or be in the process of completing) the following steps:

A. Establish and communicate a clear plan with students.

B. Download Confer Zoom http://conferzoom.org/ to local device (there may be a time lapse of 72 hours before you receive the confirmation email; do not delay if you haven’t already taken this step!).

C. Make lectures and materials available asynchronously to accommodate students’ schedules (with schools out and many of our students—and faculty—having children to care for and provide lessons to, not all students will be able to be consistent with attendance at a particular time. It might even be easier on you and students if you provide asynchronous content and have a periodic synchronous meeting rather than trying to ‘hold’ class regularly at a scheduled time); Talk with seasoned on-line instructors in your department on the merits of this approach.

D. Consider recording your lectures ahead of time.  Remember, online students learn best in bits and bites (and you may want to review your recordings ahead of time to edit, anticipate questions, etc.). 

E. Aim to keep your videos 15 mins or less and break them up if needed (i.e., lecture parts 1 and 2).

F. Have a back-up plan in the event your students are unable to get into Zoom or you are experiencing technical challenges with Zoom (expect this will happen at least periodically).

G. Practice sending links and communications to students through Canvas (practice with your colleagues to test it out!).

H. Make your best attempt to get videos captioned so that all students have access to the content. Resources for captioning will be available on the marin.edu website and in Canvas. 

Appointments are available via Zoom if you need support with any of these items. Just go to http://ol.marin.edu/faculty-support.

To ensure your materials are accessible within Canvas, here are some Accessibility Resources:

From the CCC Accessibility Center: Public Course Design Accessibility Criteria
Identifies a number of practices a faculty member could do in Canvas to address accessibility. Right now, it is all within a Canvas shell (open to all). The practices are reinforced with examples and several short videos on how to make content accessible. General Accessibility Guidelines:

Online Education and Website Accessibility

2. Provision of services to support your teaching and student learning

The following information will be made available later this week on the College’s website (and sent via email to students), but here are some details on how support services for students will be provided remotely.

A. The Tutoring and Learning Center will provide tutoring sessions through Zoom. Once all the Zoom tutoring sessions are created, the links to sessions will be posted on the TLC webpage. 
B. The Online Writing Center (OWC) will open up after Spring Break on Monday, March 23 at 8am. It will then be open 24/7, seven days a week with double the tutoring staff, so students can continue to get support for all aspects of the writing process. 
C. The Reading and Writing Lab will offer remote tutoring for reading and writing through one-on-one Zoom appointments with an instructor. Information about how to make an appointment will soon be provided. 
D. The Math Lab will offer remote tutoring for math through one-on-one Zoom appointments. Information about how to make an appointment will be coming soon.
E. Library Services will include creation of LibGuides based on current research assignments and commonly asked questions, creation of Zoom presentations in place of face-to-face instruction, and Email reference via askalibrairan@marin.edu.
F. Counseling Services (including general counseling, SAS, and EOPS) will be provided via Zoom.
G. Psychological Services will provide remote support to currently enrolled COM students via phone or Zoom. To schedule an appointment, students should call and leave a message: (415) 485-9649.
H. WiFi Access: California Connects is an affordable broadband mobile internet program for the California Community Colleges.  For $19.99 per month*, California community college students, faculty and staff can connect up to 10 devices to the California Connects mobile hotpot anytime and anywhere in the United States to study, work, create and stay connected.  Service can be canceled and reactivated anytime without penalty.  (*Please note: initial one-time device cost is not included in the monthly service cost). Additional internet provider information and resources can be found at: https://mailchi.mp/ocanational.org/affordable-and-reliable-internet-options-during-covid-19?e=a882806680

3. What to expect in the coming days

I will send another message later this week with additional updates and information. In the meantime, please know we are working on the following items

A. Updated instructions on using COM CARE to assist students with issues they may be facing, whether with online learning or beyond.
B. Additional details relating to campus access during the shelter-in-place order—But you ARE able to access your office as necessary to prepare for and provide remote instruction. This does NOT include providing any in-person instruction. Students are NOT able to access facilities at this time. If you learn of students having connectivity issues, please report their names/M00 numbers to your dean so we can work to assist them individually.
C. Information on additional student support efforts, from an alternative approach to the COM Cupboard food pantry to health services and everything in between.
D. Additional resources to support your remote instruction.
If you have any questions or need anything at any point beyond what is outlined above, please contact your dean, who will be available remotely by phone, email, and Zoom.
Again, thank you for your efforts as we find our way through what continues to develop into an increasingly historic moment in time. I will continue to work with deans and others to create as much flexibility as the situation allows. Be sure to take good care of yourself and your family.