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Message from Provost Cyril Clarke: Planning for Spring 2021 course schedules and modality

Dear Deans, Associate Deans, Department Heads and Faculty:

As we prepare for the Spring semester we hope to build on our successes and learn from the challenges of the fall. The goal is to increase the proportion of in-person instruction delivered this fall (approximately 20% of credit hours) to maximize experiential learning occurring in laboratories, field work, studios, artistic and creative performances and clinical training. For smaller classes, it is anticipated that sufficient lecture space will be available also to accommodate the reflective and interactive discussions that are the hallmark of student-centered learning, while complying with public health guidelines relating to physical distancing. For larger classes, online delivery of an entire course or the lecture-based part of a course may be necessary as it may not be possible to meet in person and also abide by public health standards. Irrespective of the delivery platform, I encourage you to adapt and design courses that engage students and invest them in their learning to the greatest extent possible. In my experience, professors who are able to model thought processes relevant to the discipline and do so in a transparent manner are the most successful in promoting student learning. Please be aware that colleagues in the Provost’s Office, the Graduate School, CETL and TLOS stand ready to support your instructional efforts.

In order to provide students with the modalities for each course section in time for Course Request, the Office of the University Registrar will be sending out a spreadsheet, similar to the one used in our fall preparations, this week. It is requested that departments return that spreadsheet to the University Registrar no later than October 9th.

It is possible that continued success of universal masking may allow relaxation of physical distancing requirements, but it is too early to predict whether this will occur. At this time, course modalities should be developed with the assumption that the environment will largely be the same as it is this fall. Physical distancing requirements will remain in the classrooms and thus the 49-student limit will remain in place until further notice.

As we used for the fall, course modalities are face-to-face, hybrid (any combination of in-person and online), Online with Synchronous Meetings, and Online Asynchronous. In order to provide students with information necessary for registration, any hybrid course should provide specific details about how the course will be offered in the comments section of the timetable. It is important that course offerings and the accompanying modalities are as accurate as possible so students have the information they need as they select courses during course request and drop/add registration. Both course request and the opening of drop/add will be delayed by one week to provide departments with additional time to populate the timetable. The following is a specific schedule of key dates:

  • September 25: Modality and resource needs file sent out to departments from University Registrar
  • October 9: Modality and Resource needs file due back to University Registrar
  • October 27-November 10: Course Request
  • November 12: Course Request results send to department
  • December 5: Drop/Add opens

Thank you for all that you are doing to move Virginia Tech forward under very challenging circumstances.