Info For Academic Faculty/Instructors

UNLV will transition to remote/virtual instruction beginning Monday, March 23. It is likely that we will continue with these new modes of instruction through the end of the spring semester.

Important Information about 2020 Fall Schedule

As UNLV transitions to summer break, the university is taking some preliminary steps to adjust the fall schedule with regard to mode of instruction in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Self-Assessment

Prior to leaving home each day, all employees must take their temperature and complete the COVID-19 assessment through the RebelSAFE App or the CDC’s Self Checker.

Fall Schedule Planning Process

A few weeks ago the Provost Office send a form for those with individual or family-related health vulnerabilities to request that one or more of their fall courses be switched to remote instruction. Shortly thereafter, Faculty Senate and Provost Office sent out a questionnaire asking for all faculty members to provide their preferences regarding mode of instruction by May 25.

The Provost then met with the deans and the incoming and outgoing Faculty Senate Chairs to discuss the responses and a principle-guided process to change the mode of delivery to remote or hybrid for a significant number of fall courses.

First Steps for Fall Schedule

Based on that discussion, here are the steps UNLV plans to follow:

  • At the outset, UNLV will shift all lecture courses with 75 or more students to remote delivery.
  • Then departments will be asked to move additional courses online in consultation with faculty and based on the set of principles we identified (risk mitigation, suitability for online instruction, etc.). This approach allows the university to protect vulnerable faculty members; lower the density of students in classrooms, labs, and other campus spaces; and allows for more social distancing across campus.
  • UNLV is aiming for a 50/50 mix of remote and in-person courses.  Based on the requests from faculty for transitioning to remote instruction, the university appears to be on track to achieve that mix. 
  • These adjustments will need to be made by mid-June so that the Registrar’s Office can make the necessary changes in MyUNLV and notify students.
  • Department chairs and school directors will notify instructional faculty of how adjustments will be made within each unit.

All of the above assumes that public health conditions during the fall semester will allow for in-person instruction. Conditions at the start of the fall or suddenly arising during the semester may force us back to remote instruction for all courses. Recognizing this possibility, all instructional faculty, even those planning for in-person instruction, are encouraged to spend some time this summer preparing their courses for online delivery should that be necessary.

Stipend for UNLV Online Instruction Training

UNLV will provide a $500 stipend to instructional faculty not on contract this summer (i.e., B-contract academic faculty, PTIs, and GAs) who complete additional UNLV online instruction training.  Further details about the available trainings and the process for receiving the stipend will be announced next week.

Principles to Guide Adjustment of Fall 2020 Mode of Instruction

A first step in our fall instruction planning process will be to identify the principles that will guide our decisions. We will then ask colleges and departments to work with these principles and instructor preferences to move additional courses to remote or hybrid instruction with the goal of achieving a roughly 50/50 split in remote versus in-person instruction.

Context

  • COVID-19 is a serious illness that poses significant risk to some individuals and non-trivial risk to everyone.
  • The degree of infection and community spread at the start of fall and throughout the term is predicted to be lower, but currently unknowable. Some believe that infection rates may increase later in the fall.  Thus, we will need to be nimble in adjusting to the circumstances we encounter during the fall semester. 
  • UNLV is a complex place that typically involves the physical interactions and interconnections of tens of thousands of people. It will be important to have appropriate risk mitigation procedures in place, including lower density on campus generally and in classrooms specifically. 
  • College campuses are populated by many individuals at high-risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.
  • Academic faculty are highly trained individuals who have spent many years developing the credentials and expertise that qualify them to be professors.
  • All higher education institutions are facing similar challenges and choosing from among a finite set of imperfect strategies to balance the safety of their communities with mission fulfillment.

Principles

  • Operate with safety as a primary consideration.
  • Schedule courses required for students to make academic progress and toward timely graduation.
  • Adopt all feasible risk-mitigation procedures that do not interfere with or substantially and predictably degrade our mission fulfillment (e.g., increasing the time between classes to lower hallway density).
  • Weigh costs and benefits of risk mitigation procedures that do degrade our mission fulfillment. Generally, these decisions are best made at the level where understanding of the details and complexities is highest.  This is typically the academic department or college.
  • Prioritize local control of mode of instruction to the greatest extent possible with due consideration of all the previous principles.
  • Maintain the planned mode of instruction and consider student preferences for mode of instruction as much as possible within the constraints of the first four principles.
  • Provide as much clarity as possible regarding the expected nature of instruction and other operating procedures. Do not sacrifice clarity and accuracy of communication for speed or urgency. When we do not know, we should say so.
  • Provide the best learning experiences possible.

Software and Technology Resources

The Office of Information Technology continues to offer its services to employees, no matter where you are teaching or working this semester. OIT has launched a few new services, which are listed below:

  • IT has made temporary software licensing available online for employees who are teaching and working remotely.
  • IT created a series of tutorials about Webex, UNLV’s web conferencing tool, and Panopto, a lecture capture service. Videos are one-to-two minutes long and cover step-by-step instructions to help students get started with these technological tools.
  • The IT Help Desk remains available for technical assistance between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, including weekends. Submit a help request online, email ithelp@unlv.edu, or call 702-895-0777 for assistance.

Spring 2020 Course Grading

Following similar actions by colleges and universities across the U.S., NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly announced on March 25 that all NSHE institutions shall make the "S/U" grading option available to all students for the Spring 2020 semester. This will provide flexibility to students and faculty in light of campus closures and changes in course content delivery related to COVID-19 emergency measures.

Chancellor Reilly said he will recommend the Board of Regents temporarily suspend the provision of Title 4, Chapter 16, Section 37 of the Board of Regents Handbook, which dictates the letter grade that is necessary for an "S" (Satisfactory) grade to be applied ("C" or better for undergraduate students; "B" or better for graduate students). This will allow UNLV to apply a "Satisfactory" grade for students to earn credit for degree requirements with a “D-" or better, or as otherwise appropriate.

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost has consulted with Faculty Senate leadership, the Graduate College, and Enrollment and Student Services to develop an implementation plan consistent with the spirit of Chancellor Reilly’s directive. This plan will allow students flexibility during a time when they may be struggling with non-academic issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNLV will implement the S/U grading option for Spring 2020 as follows:

UNLV faculty will submit final grades for their courses at the end of the Spring 2020 term, according to the grading basis assigned to each course in MyUNLV. If a course was originally scheduled for letter grading, the instructor should submit letter grades. If a course was originally scheduled for S/U grading, the instructor should enter “S” or “U”, according to the revised guidelines that “D-” or better performance is considered “Satisfactory” for undergraduates, and “B-” or better is considered “Satisfactory” for graduate students. Instructors  must submit final grades in MyUNLV no later than 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19. This semester, it is more important than ever for grades to be  submitted on time, as students will have a short window in which to submit their petitions to change to S/U grading.

Students will be permitted to submit a petition to change the grading basis to S/U for any Spring 2020 course that has an end date after March 16. Petitions may be submitted only after final grades are posted and will require students to consult with an academic advisor (undergraduate) or faculty advisor and Graduate Coordinator (graduate). Graduate students also may discuss the change in grading basis with their Graduate College RPC coordinator, to understand the impact on GPA and degree requirements, and with Financial Aid to understand the impact on loans and awards.

Requests from undergraduate students will be submitted electronically through the Registrar’s web page, processed by the Faculty Senate Office and the Office of the Registrar, and the appropriate “S” (“D-” or better) or “U” (“F”) grade will be applied in MyUNLV to each course for which a student requested the change in grading basis.

Requests from graduate students will be submitted electronically via the Graduate College web page, then processed by the Graduate College and the Office of the Registrar, and the appropriate “S” (“B-” or better) or “U” (“C+” or lower) grade will be applied in MyUNLV to each course for which a student requested the change in grading basis. Graduate students will be permitted to count up to six credits of “Satisfactory”-graded coursework from Spring 2020 toward Master’s or doctoral degree requirements.

Additional information for faculty regarding requests for a change in grading basis and the impacts on downstream processes, such as prerequisites and degree requirements, will be released in the coming days.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and continued support of our students during these challenging times.

Extension of Withdrawal Deadline

In an effort to provide students with greater flexibility as UNLV adjusts to remote instruction and students deal with potential health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extending the last day to drop or withdraw from classes (without a refund) or change from credit to audit by one week. The new deadline to drop a class or withdraw completely from classes is Friday, April 10, 2020 (previously Friday, April 3, 2020). Drops and withdrawals will not be allowed after this date, even with instructor approval. This deadline does not apply to modular or mid-semester courses.

Students are encouraged to consult with Financial Aid Services and with academic advisors to ensure that they understand any potential impacts of the decision to drop or withdraw on current or future financial aid and degree progression.

Guidelines

As you prepare for the transition ahead, please observe the following guidelines.

  • Faculty and other teaching staff must inform students how instruction will continue for each course before March 23.
  • Instructors who need additional time to prepare for the transition may opt to cancel class sessions on March 23 and March 24, but this information should be communicated to students in advance. In accordance with published policy, faculty should communicate with students through each student’s UNLV Rebelmail account.
  • Remote instruction may be conducted through WebCampus/Canvas, Cisco Webex meetings, recorded lectures, email, telephone conversations, and other methods of communication. Resources and support are available through the Faculty Center, Information Technology (“Teaching & Working Remotely”), and Online Education.
  • An email and special webpage outlining alternative plans, deadlines, and GA information will go out the Graduate College to support the graduate community's unique needs.
  • Labs, clinical experiences, internships, practicums, and related experiences for undergraduate instruction should be translated into other types of learning. Any exceptions must be approved by the applicable college/school dean. Although we recognize that the current situation is challenging, it is also an opportunity for creativity in assignments, demonstrations, and testing. The UNLV School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, and School of Nursing will operate under procedures established by their respective deans.
  • You can access most UNLV services and applications without a virtual private network (VPN), including Workday, WebCampus, Library databases, WebEx, Panopto, UNLVMail, and Rebelmail. The X: and Y: Drive can be accessed using Rebelfiles. VPN adds a level of complexity that is not needed by most users. If your remote access needs include access to specialized servers, be sure to include that when you request VPN access.

Students who are registered with the Disability Resource Center may receive assistance by calling 702-895-0866 or sending an email to drc@unlv.edu.

UNLV will continue providing additional guidance and support as it becomes available.

Academic Integrity

As we have rapidly transitioned to remote instruction, you may be concerned about maintaining the academic integrity for assessments you deliver in your newly online class. It is important to recognize that there is no security measure that ensures 100% prevention of academic misconduct, regardless of the mode of delivery.

Whereas live, online proctoring is one approach to maintaining academic integrity for online assessments, this option is costly, has technical requirements (e.g., webcam) that may prevent some students from participating in assessments, and may be labor-intensive for both faculty and students. UNLV does have a relationship with a third-party online proctoring service (ProctorU), but the cost of that service is paid by the individual students enrolled in courses with proctored exams. By federal law, this is only allowed when it is disclosed to students before they register for a class (i.e., it is listed as a note in MyUNLV prior to class registration beginning). Thus, ProctorU services will only be allowed for courses for which arrangements were made prior to the start of the Spring 2020 semester.

As alternatives to live proctoring, UNLV offers the following options for instructors:

  • Support for assessment designs that minimize opportunities for academic misconduct. Some measures include:
    • Multiple versions of tests/quizzes using question groups in WebCampus.
    • Quizzes with set time availability ranges in WebCampus.
    • Randomized order of multiple choice answers.
    • For smaller courses, authentic assessments, which require students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world tasks or problems.
    • For smaller courses or laboratories, one-on-one, short, video-based oral exams.
  • Respondus Lockdown Browser, available in WebCampus.
    • Prevents students from opening new windows, capturing or sharing their screens, or printing during an assessment exercise.
  • Reminders to students of UNLV’s Academic Misconduct Policy and its application to assessments in your course.
    • The Office of Online Education can assist you in designing your assessment so that students must acknowledge that they have read the policy before they proceed to the assessment. Research has shown this simple acknowledgement deters incidents of cheating (see references below).
  • Reducing students’ motivation to engage in academic misconduct.
    • Consider redistributing the total points for your course over more low-stakes assessments, as opposed to a high-stakes mid-term exam(s) and final exam.
    • Reassure students that you have confidence in their ability to learn and to demonstrate their learning to you.
    • Do not use normative grading (i.e., grading on a “curve”), unless it’s absolutely necessary. Competition can cause students to prioritize the outcome (grade) over the process (learning), and lead to a temptation to cheat. By focusing your grading on individual mastery, rather than on relative achievement, you alleviate this conflict.

References

Bing, M.N, Davison, K., Vitell, S.J., Ammeter, A.P., Garner, B.L. & Novicevic, M.M. 2012. An experimental investigation of an interactive model of academic cheating among business school students. Academy of Management Learning & Education 11(1):28-48.

Carpenter, D., Harding, T. & Finelli, C. 2010. Using research to identify academic dishonesty deterrents among engineering undergraduates. International Journal of Engineering Education 26(5):1156-1165.

Tatum, H. & Schwartz, B.M. 2017. Honor codes: evidence based strategies for improving academic integrity. Theory Into Practice 56(2):129-135.

From the Disability Resource Center

As part of UNLV’s decision to transition from face-to-face to remote instruction, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) encourages you to review the following guidelines along with the faculty notification letter(s) you previously received this semester. To ensure that course materials created can be used by student(s) that receive accommodations in your course through the DRC these guidelines are necessary.

Alternative Formats (Alternative Media Services)

Electronic versions of course materials must be available to students in (Word Documents, Powerpoints, or Searchable PDF).

PDF Files created from photocopied materials are not accessible.

Electronic content should be uploaded to a UNLV-supported learning management system Webcampus to ensure compatibility with assistive technology.

Handwritten notes are not accessible. Materials must be in the above formats or typewritten.

Accommodations Related to Exams and Quizzes

DRC encourages instructors to administer all remote exams and quizzes in Webcampus

OIT can assist you should you need help implementing accommodations in Webcampus please submit a ticket to the IT Help Desk using: https://www.it.unlv.edu/webcampus/help-request-form or call 702-895-0777.

Things to keep in mind:
  • The request must include specifics on the nature of the accommodation (e.g., 1.5X time on all uncompleted quizzes and exams), and the following statement
    • Requests should be submitted at least 48 hours before your first exam or the scheduled exam.
      • “I give the UNLV OIT permission to modify the quiz and/or exam settings in this course for the purpose of satisfying this accommodation.”
    • Here is how to do this yourself on Webcampus https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-13053
      • You can also select that the student has to utilize a Respondus lockdown browser which will prevent her from accessing the internet. Here is a link from our OIT that covers a lot of your questions (look at the section called Respondus): https://www.it.unlv.edu/webcampus/canvas/instructors

Class Notes

  • If an instructor is providing class notes, they must be in an accessible format (please see above).

If you have any questions about the content of this email, please contact Andrew Luiz at [Email: Andrew.luiz@unlv.edu] or via telephone at 702-895-0866. Please CC [Email: drcmedia@unlv.edu] in your emails.

Thank you for your time and assistance.