Teaching & Learning

Overview 

The University is committed to providing an excellent education for every student in an environment that maintains the health, safety and well-being of our campus community.  

We will work with the Capital Region Control Room to develop a process for assessing and determining whether we can safety continue with in-person classes throughout the semester. 

Vigilance in tracking key metrics – on campus and in our surrounding communities – will help inform our plans and response in the event of a resurgence of COVID-19. 

We will send frequent updates to students, faculty and staff on the implementation of this plan and any changes that will affect the campus community. 


 

Academic Schedule 

We plan to invite students back to campus for the scheduled semester start, with classes in session on Labor Day, eliminate fall break and complete on-campus instruction before Thanksgiving. Check this site frequently for updates to this plan based on evolving conditions and guidance. 

All courses, including those already scheduled for being online, will conform to the new academic calendar.
 

Key Dates 

August 24: First day of classes 

September 7: Classes will be held on Labor Day 

October 12 and 13: Classes will be held during fall break 

November 24: Last day of on-campus instruction  

November 25: Students leave campus for the semester 

November 30 through December 7: Final exams will be held remotely for all students 
 

Canceling fall break and ending on-campus instruction before Thanksgiving will minimize the possibility of students and employees becoming infected while traveling and then spreading the virus to the campus community upon their return. 

Holding class during fall break and on Labor Day will also allow us to meet the necessary instructional contact hours and activities. 

Course Delivery 

While we would all like to be back on campus in the fall, gathering all students for in-person classes is not possible due to physical distancing guidelines that limit classroom capacity. 

For safety and flexibility, the University will deliver courses in three broad categories: in-person (all students participate face-to-face), hybrid (a combination of face-to-face and online) and fully online. 

The Academic Continuity Work Group reviewed faculty course delivery requests evaluating enrollment caps, faculty preference and classroom availability. The final mode of instruction for each course is being determined in consultation with deans, department chairs and faculty. 
 

In-Person Courses

Priority for in-person classes — in which all students meet in the classroom with the instructor for all class meetings — has been given to courses with academic outcomes that faculty have identified as more difficult to measure or achieve virtually. These include: 
 

  • Graduate and undergraduate research courses
     

  • First year student courses (First Year Experience (FYE), Living Learning Community and Writing & Critical Inquiry): These courses provide critical learning experiences for first year students and establish important connections to the University. These are small courses best taught in person to facilitate cohort building.
     

  • Science teaching labs: Laboratory courses offer hands-on learning that is essential to all science majors providing exposure to equipment and techniques that most students do not have an opportunity to experience elsewhere.
     

  • Studio, seminar and performance courses: Many art, music and theater courses fall in this group, as well as honors and capstone seminars, graduate seminars and EOP seminars. 
     

Hybrid Courses

The university has established three hybrid learning options that combine in-person and online learning. Faculty teaching in a hybrid modality will utilize one of the following instructional options:
 

  • Synchronous Simulcast: This low-density in-person class has one or more remote students. Some students meet with the instructor in the classroom at every class meeting, which all other students in the class interact with the instructor and their peers through Zoom, or similar technology, in a synchronous manner. 
     

  • Blended/Reduced Classroom Meetings: This low-density in-person environment could have one or more remote students. Most students meet with the instructor face-to-face in the classroom for a limited number of class meetings during the semester. Any remaining class interaction with the instructor and peers occurs through Blackboard, Zoom or similar technology in a synchronous or asynchronous manner. Asynchronous is more common for this format.
     

  • Alternating Attendance: Students in the class are divided into two or more groups. Direct instruction, including lectures, is presented online asynchronously to the entire class. Then each group of students meets with the instructor face-to-face in the classroom once a week for interactive and/or applied learning activities, such as computer-based activities or statistical analyses.
     

The University also suggests alternating sessions for labs, in which a lab section is divided into two groups of students. One group participates face-to-face in the lab during even weeks of the semester (or days of the week), while the other group participates face-to-face in the lab during odd weeks (or days of the week) of the semester. Students who are not in the lab participate in online learning, which might be synchronous or asynchronous.

Online Courses

Fully online courses will have no in-person meetings, with all class activities conducted online in one of two ways: 
 

  • Synchronous education: This type of teaching and learning occurs at the same time but not in the same place. For courses taught in a synchronous format, class interaction with the instructor and peers occurs through Blackboard, Zoom or similar technology during the scheduled class meeting times.  
     

  • Asynchronous education: This type of teaching and learning does not occur in the same place or time. Class interaction with the instructor and peers occurs through Blackboard, Zoom or similar technology without real-time interaction.

Any courses planned for in-person and hybrid delivery must be ready to move to online delivery at any point in the semester. Instructors will be asked to: 

  • Have course materials organized in Blackboard, in case their course must pivot online. 

  • Prepare remote learning options in case a student is unable to attend in-person classes due to illness or infection. 

  • Develop plans for using Zoom or another online platform for courses that necessitate synchronous components, such as supervised field experiences.  

  • Become familiar with the resources available, attend webinars, workshops and seek individual consultations as needed by emailing teachingandlearning@albany.edu

  • Submit any software or technology needs through the ITS ticket service.

  • Utilize the Library services for e-reserves and assistance.

Greatly reduced numbers in classrooms and public spaces will help naturally manage pedestrian traffic. In select locations, stairwells will be made one-way. These actions, combined with personal responsibility and public awareness messaging, will help reduce densities and improve traffic flow. 


 

Rescheduling Fall 2020 Classes 

The University plans to share its final recommendations for course delivery with instructors in the coming days and then send the final course list to academic units by early July. However, the final determination for some courses will depend on whether physical classroom requests can be accommodated in the revised schedule of classes.  

The Registrar’s Office will start rescheduling classes as soon as they receive the final list of course requests. It may take up to 4 weeks to rebuild the schedule.

The University will keep instructors and their academic units informed of any changes during the rescheduling process, and then send an email to all students and faculty when the new Fall 2020 schedule is complete. 
 

Accessing the New Class Schedule 

Students and faculty will be able to access the revised schedule of classes in the same format and on the same platforms as they have in the past.  

Course delivery methods will be listed in the searchable schedule of classes, via Scheduler Planner, and on MyUAlbany. The schedule will also note the following details: 

  • In-person courses: Days, times and room assignments 

  • Hybrid courses: Room assignments, and whether the course will be asynchronous or synchronous

  • Online courses: Whether the course will be asynchronous or synchronous 

Students who are unable to come to campus will have a large array of online courses to choose from, including widely available online course options. Once the revised schedule is live, academic advisors will also be available to work with students who need or want a fully online schedule. 

Research and Scholarly Activities 

The Research and Scholarship Continuity Task Force has developed recommendations for the resumption of research and scholarly activities and an approval process to verify that all necessary steps have been taken to ensure personal safety and the safe operation of laboratory and research spaces. 

Faculty and researchers who can perform research and scholarly activities remotely should continue to do so from home. However, physically being on campus will be permitted for research and scholarship that require the use of campus facilities and instrumentation.  

To start the approval process, please follow these instructions: 
 

Step 1: Review the guidelines

Review the guidelines outlined in the Task Force’s Recommendations, as well as the literature cited and linked in the report.  

Download, print and post in your labs and workspaces the campus’s COVID-19 signage for safety and social distancing.  

Also, please download and review UAlbany’s Environmental Health and Safety Checklist for Restarting Research Activities. 

Step 2: Complete and submit an Approval Form

Complete and submit the Research Continuity Approval Form.  

Use the embedded link to email the form to the Division for Research and Office of Environmental Health & Safety. Please copy your department chair/director and your college/school dean on that email.  

If all requirements are met, you will receive approval from the Division for Research in a few days. 

Step 3: Inspect your lab

Once you receive approval from the Division for Research, you should then inspect your laboratory or workspace using the EHS Checklist. Keep a copy of the checklist readily accessible. Make sure everyone on your team is aware of and agrees to follow all pertinent recommendations and guidelines. 

Please email research@albany.edu with any questions. Find more information on the Division of Research’s COVID-19 website

Instructional Support for Faculty 

Whether your course will be taught in the classroom, online or in a hybrid mode, the Institute for Teaching, Learning and Academic Leadership (ITLAL), Information Technology Services (ITS) and Online Teaching and Learning (OTL), in consultation with the Academic Continuity Workgroup, have developed workshops, webinars and related supports to assist you as you prepare your instruction. 
 

Workshops and Webinars

See a preliminary schedule of workshops and webinars for June. 

  • ITLAL will offer “Course Design and Development” workshops to support your overall course approach, goals and strategies regardless of delivery mode. 
     
  • ITLAL and OTL will offer “Design for Online Learning” workshops to support a holistic transformation of a course to online delivery. 
     
  • ITS will offer “Technology Tools to Support Pedagogy” webinars to provide you with the skill to apply technology solutions that meet your pedagogical objectives. 
New Adaptable Blackboard Template

A new, optional template is being developed by ITS to provide a framework for all courses, if desired, and to support a smoother transition, if necessary, among the modes of delivery. This template will be available when Blackboard courses are created in mid- to late-June.  

Course Development and Planning Resources

All fall instructors have been added to the Fall 2020 Keep Teaching Course Development and Planning Resources blackboard resource, which contains structured guidance through the process of designing and developing a fully online course. It is designed for individual, self-paced work, with access to in-person support from ITLAL and ITS staff. You will be notified when this resource goes live in mid-June. 

Individual Consultations

ITLAL and ITS consultants are available for individual consultation and support. Request an ITLAL consultation for teaching-related concerns. Request an ITS consultation for technology-related concerns. 

Remote Teaching Brown Bag sessions

ITLAL will offer virtual brown bag sessions every Friday at noon using Zoom. These are informal opportunities for instructors to share challenges and learn from the collective wisdom of their colleagues.

School and College Support

Each School and College is exploring options for peer-to-peer instructional support opportunities to assist colleagues in course design and development.

Faculty without the necessary technology at home can utilize their on-campus office. Please see our Returning to the Workplace page for additional guidance.

Additional information about the instructional strategy will be shared regularly throughout the summer.