Georgetown CNDLS creates website to help professors keep in touch with students in these snowy times

Georgetown Provost Jim O’Donnell is ever diligent in his (rather unpopular) efforts to keep Georgetown despite the record snowfalls that have forced campus to close for three days in a row. In an e-mail he just sent to Georgetown faculty, he has provided a link to a website created by the Georgetown Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship that has information and suggestions about how to keep in touch with students—even hold classes—via the Internet.

“Make the Most of the Closure,” the website reads on its main page. While some of its suggestions are pretty basic—e-mail students to review what would have been covered in class—there are instructions on how to hold digital class using the electronic blackboard on Blackboard, how to arrange online quizzes and exams, how to use audio conferencing to hold remote office hours with students, or how to use it to hold class remotely.

In addition Diana Owen’s real-time blog class, the website reveals that other professors have been holding class, too: so far, it boasts the story of physics professor Earl Skelton, who has “held class” every session despite the snow over the last few days.

“It’s still snowing,” O’Donnell wrote in his e-mail, which he shared with the Voice. “We don’t yet know just how much of this week’s face-to-face instruction we will lose, but we’ve lost a lot already. We are focused on safety as first priority and academic progress a very close second.”

In the e-mail, he also says he hopes to have an announcement ready about “tomorrow’s plans” by early evening.

Read his full letter after the jump.

Dear colleagues,

It’s still snowing.  We don’t yet know just how much of this week’s face-to-face instruction we will lose, but we’ve lost a lot already. We are focused on safety as first priority and academic progress a very close second.  I hope to have announcement by early evening about tomorrow’s plans.

But we are also hearing from faculty and students of creative and ingenious ways they are finding to stay connected, stay focused, and
keep the semester’s work going forward.  In order to help all faculty and students connect during this time, CNDLS <http://cndls.georgetown.edu> has put together a web page with suggestions and tips. The page can be found here:

https://digitalcommons.georgetown.edu/blogs/continuity/

The page includes tips on how to deliver content to students through Blackboard or other electronic means, how to engage with students through online discussions and virtual office hours, and how to have students work through the assigned materials from a distance.  Some very simple tactics can be very effective.  (And you can think about getting your students involved in designing the solution:  asking them what they think might work can get them engaged that way.)

If you’ve already done something like this, we like to help you share it with your colleagues. Send a brief description to cndls@georgetown.edu along with some reflections on how well it worked. CNDLS will post these to the Continuity web site.

With best wishes,
Jim O’Donnell
Provost

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