Instruction this semester is designed for flexibility, inclusiveness, student-faculty engagement and distinctive experiential learning. Academic Innovation offers robust and consistent support for faculty as they design and implement their courses, including webinars, on-demand resources and consultations.
All courses are prepared for online instruction
The majority of courses will be offered fully online with options for asynchronous, synchronous or a hybrid of the two online options. A limited number of courses were approved to meet face-to-face based on strict criteria. All face-to-face courses offer a parallel online component (hyflex) for students who are not able to attend in person and must be able to transition to a fully online format on short notice. This allows maximum flexibility to accommodate the health, safety and at-home situations of all.
In-person instruction is limited
Due to classroom space constraints, limited in-person courses are being offered based on specific pedagogical and/or accreditation need, and required prior approved by the college dean and registrar. Examples of pedagogical need include necessarily hands-on work such as studio art, music and dance instruction, architecture and interior design studios, engineering senior design studios, student teaching and clinical observations in schools, and labs that require the use of specialized equipment, and the like.
Integrating experiential learning opportunities
We are using this opportunity to create distinctive and innovative experiential learning opportunities even amidst this extraordinary time. The majority of experiential learning can be accomplished online with sufficient training, support, and time for planning. However, there are some experiential learning modalities that can only be accomplished in person.
Programs with accreditation needs in experiential learning were given priority for learning technology investment and face-to-face scheduling in classrooms, labs, studios and non-traditional learning spaces on campus.
The Office of Digital Learning is the university resource for best practices for online pedagogies in experiential learning.
Create a more consistent teaching and learning experience
Blackboard Learn and the tools approved by UTSA are compliant with FERPA and UTSA policies, and support is provided. Faculty are asked to only use UTSA site-licensed platforms such as Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Zoom and WebEx to meet with students.
The student-faculty connection is top priority
By and large, what students missed in the spring after transition to remote learning was the interpersonal connection. To facilitate these connections, faculty are expected to offer regular, synchronous interaction with students, whether one-on-one dialogue or small group sessions. Faculty are also encouraged to seek innovative ways to create informal, one-on-one dialogues with students.
Faculty have access to their offices, where they may work and provide instruction. However, to the greatest extent possible, meetings and office hours should be offered virtually. When scheduling office hours, consider offering sessions at different times of day, including into the early evening hours, to accommodate students who may also be working or caring for family members.
Faculty resources and support
Academic Innovation brings together experts in teaching, technology, and virtual learning to champion innovative and transformational practices that enhance the academic experience of our students and faculty. Their Teaching Resources site has become an integral roadmap for faculty on teaching online effectively and will be continually updated with new programs and information so check back regularly.
In addition to hearing from college leadership and faculty champions, faculty are kept informed of instruction-related updates and resources primarily through the weekly Faculty Center newsletter. Faculty may also follow Academic Innovation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with event and webinar reminders, digital tool enhancements, and more.
Academic Innovation and tech investments
Some resources are available to support high priority courses, which include:
- Classes that impact the most students
- Classes in which the new will become a permanent element in the course as it is taught in the future
- Classes in which the development of a few online components could result in moving the entire course to fully online delivery (e.t., lab exercises)
- Classes in which accreditation concerns could be resolved
- Classes populated by students whose engagement is most important for recruitment and retention
- Classes critical to student success, such as gateway classes in majors and classes that are required of large numbers of students
UTS and Academic Innovation are working together to prioritize which classrooms must be outfitted with cameras, microphones, and similar equipment for hyflex and interactive learning. Additionally, IT hardware and software needs are being explored to determine how best to support faculty for proper instruction, for example purchasing webcams for faculty who need to utilize the technology for online learning.