Update on Fall 2020 semester

This email was sent to all faculty after Ed Feasel’s announcement of our going online for Fall 2020 semester. We look forward to working with all faculty in helping to optimise our courses for the online format, and please send ideas for needed resources or training to Bryan Penprase and Phat Vu, as well as to Janna Skye.

Dear Faculty Colleagues,
As Ed Feasel’s email just indicated, we will be continuing our online instruction for Fall Semester. I appreciate everyone’s contributions in helping us make this decision – including the faculty on the Undergraduate Academic Continuity Committee, the Curriculum Committee, the Science Advisory Group, and the in-Person Education Committee. The comments and thoughts of our community all helped us make an informed and correct decision and it was good to see everyone contribute to our deliberations. 
It was also very gratifying to see how all of the Concentrations, Programs and Areas worked together to optimise our scheduling of classes to enable students from around the world to participate in our live and synchronous courses. I appreciate everyone’s willingness to consider teaching in later times to allow for more of our global community of students to join in our seminars and discussions. From this effort, we have been able to shift nearly 40% of our course times to 4PM or later, which will allow students in both North America, Asia and other continents to participate during waking hours. 
One interesting new development is the opportunity to offer new courses in the Fall Block period. From the discussions in the Curriculum Committee and in the Concentrations and Programs, we have been able to develop a really interesting mix of courses in Fall Bock that includes courses such as Ecological Methods, Plagues and Peoples, SBS Research Methods, and two sections of Modes of Inquiry. We hope that these block courses will be helpful to students and will give them some flexibility in structuring their schedule during Fall Semester. 
Now that we are continuing with online instruction, we also have the benefit of learning from our experiment during Spring 2020, and we will have time to plan for necessary training and redesign of some of our courses. I am grateful for the work of Phat Vu as Curriculum Committee chair in leading discussions about the rescheduling of Fall 2020, and also for working with me to help design some faculty workshops and discussions to help us learn more about teaching online, and how we can redesign our courses for the best results in the online format. 
If you have any requests for training, specific software or ideas for how we can help you teach online, please send these ideas to Phat Vu and me and we will do our best to find the resources needed to help us teach online in a compelling and engaging way that preserves as much of the quality of our in-person experience as possible.  We have gathered a long list of web resources at https://sites.soka.edu/online-teaching/resources/, and I welcome suggestions for what types of information and training would be most useful to you in your teaching. 
In the meantime – please have a great weekend, and we will be sending more email in the coming days and weeks to help gain ideas for how we can best structure our training and develop resources to help us all prepare fully for the coming fall semester.  
Best wishes,

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