A profound “Thank you”—all your efforts have paid off.
University of Miami
Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost logo
August 19, 2020
Dear Faculty,

The Fall 2020 semester has officially kicked off! As I walked around campus this week (wearing my mask, of course) and sat in on a couple of hybrid classes, I was struck by the enormity of planning and commitment it took to get here, whether in person or virtually. A profound “Thank you”—all our efforts have paid off.

During these first several days, we have been listening to faculty, students, and staff so we can make any needed refinements. A number of issues are already being addressed. And, as you enter your classroom, take a moment to wipe down your podium and instructional controls and remind students to do the same in their seating areas. Based on feedback we have received, here are the top four top ideas for improving teaching and learning in your courses.
  • First, please watch the classroom tutorial, which covers the essentials of managing the technology in your classroom, from cleaning your space and equipment, through doing audio and video checks in Zoom to ensure that students can hear and see you, plus showing you how to switch between microphones and video cameras.
  • Second, in most cases, your online students will not be able to hear questions from students who are with you in the classroom; nor will students in the classroom necessarily hear those who are online. We recommend that you repeat any question from students so it can be heard by everyone, just as a conference speaker would repeat a question from the audience.
  • Third, there have been some concerns from students with duplicate seat assignments. The In-Person Attendance and Assigned Seating system adjusts seating for changes like courses being switched from hybrid to in-person and for drop/add activity. In addition, the development team is making updates whenever a faculty member reports a missing section or student. Students should check the live link by going to http://miami.edu/CampusAttendanceSeating. They can also get to this link through a banner in Blackboard or CaneLink.
  • Fourth, please also ask students to show you their “Good to Go” daily approval from the symptom monitoring app. Students who have yet to turn in a negative COVID-19 test result, or who do not use the app daily, will not receive the QR code and green “Good to Go” message.

Students may ask about where they can go to study. We are also launching an online resource for students so that they may use available study spaces across campus as part of a new Classroom Availability module. Some locations we had previously used in the academic setting were not suitable for classrooms this semester, and they can now be a valuable location for students to study or to take their online/hybrid courses. Stay tuned for a link you can share with your students once this option is live.

It’s more important than ever that we give ourselves and our students the opportunity to adjust during the next week, especially as we explore the nuances of hosting hybrid classrooms that successfully blend in-person and remote experiences. We look forward to hearing about your own lessons learned and will continue to share resources, like the back-to-campus guide below, with you.
Bianca Maceo Heilman, assistant scientist and lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, tests her classroom A/V setup prior to the start of the fall semester. Photo: Evan Garcia/University of Miami Design: Tina Talavera/University of Miami

Explore a guide to help faculty navigate the semester

With gratitude, dedication, and encouragement,
Jeffrey L. Duerk signature
Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
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