As a community, we should strive to maintain patience and compassion with ourselves, and each other, as we confront known and unknown risks, and we should also strive to develop resilient teaching plans to ensure our students' progress toward their academic goals.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Keep Teaching - Instructor Planning Guide
These planning resources can help you prepare a resilient teaching plan to prepare for unforeseen events that affect your teaching.
August 28, 2020
I first want to thank and congratulate you on the successful start of classes this week. For many of you, I know that this success was the result of your careful and creative planning as you developed resilient teaching plans that included alternative ways to engage our students in meaningful learning experiences. The campus has spent this time of preparation assembling plans to limit the number of students, faculty, and staff on campus in order to meet health requirements and limit the spread of COVID-19.
We have just begun this Fall semester, during which 99% of instruction will take place in remote modalities, and yet our campus community has already been called to further demonstrate our resiliency by adapting and responding to a number of unexpected events. Some events are merely disruptive, such as the rolling blackouts to counteract increased energy consumption, or the 2-hour nation-wide outage of the Zoom web conferencing service on the first day of instruction. Some events are catastrophic, such as the social and economic disparities endured by our most vulnerable populations, compounded by the global health crisis, or the local forest fires which have displaced faculty, staff and students, and created hazardous breathing conditions.
As a community, we should strive to maintain patience and compassion with ourselves, and each other, as we confront known and unknown risks, and we should also strive to develop resilient teaching plans to ensure our students' progress toward their academic goals. This message is to enlist your help in planning for unforeseen events and to share with you a number of resources that can support you in this effort.
Please review the questions below within the context of your own teaching, and consult the resilient teaching and learning planning resources on the Instructional Continuity Website, especially the Keep Teaching Planning Guide, as appropriate for your needs.
Resilient Teaching Plan: What will you (or your students) do if one should fall ill or need to take care of a family member?
Communications Plan: How will you (or your students) communicate with each other and receive accurate university information during the event of an emergency?
Technology Plan: What will you (or your students) do if one should lose access to power, equipment or software services?
Emergency Assistance Plan: What will you (or your students) do if one should lose access to housing, food, or other basic necessities?
Health & Wellbeing Plan: What will you (or your students) do if one should require mental health services or medical assistance?
We understand that the uncertainties of our current circumstances make emergency preparation even more than usually challenging. Trust your patience and wisdom as we navigate these challenges. Again, you can find information and resources on the Instructional Continuity Website, the University’s COVID-19 site, and Academic Affairs’ Academic Work Under COVID 19.
Thank you for supporting our students and each other as we begin this unprecedented semester.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
How will you (or your students) communicate with each other and receive accurate university information during the event of an emergency?
- Create your SF State email account, check it regularly, and encourage your students to do the same;
- Ensure your emergency contact information is current within SF State Gateway so you will receive emergency alerts from the university, and encourage your students to do the same;
- Use the SF State Learning Management System, iLearn, as the hub for student-instructor communications, leveraging Quickmail and forums since they maintain an archive of previous communications.
What will you (or your students) do if one should fall ill or need to take care of a family member?
- Use iLearn and the SF State Syllabus tool to post your contact information, course materials, and instructions for students on what to do in the event of a disruption to instruction;
- Prioritize asynchronous, low-bandwidth teaching and learning opportunities, and
- Review the Resilient Course Design for Challenging Times module in the CEETL Online Teaching Lab, and use these strategies to develop “Plan B” strategies for your course;
- Review the Equity & Resilience quickguide for strategies on how to provide an intentional focus on equity and inclusion to help promote and sustain resilience in times of crisis.
What will you (or your students) do if one should lose access to power, equipment or software services?
- Ensure you have provided clear directions on how students can continue instruction in the event that you cannot access iLearn or other learning resources;
- Download class rosters and emails for all courses, either through iLearn or the SF State Faculty Center, and save these in a location you are likely to have access to even in an emergency, such as your mobile phone, SF State Outlook Web Access, or your SF State Box.com account.
- Throughout the semester, download and backup grading records and other key course information that is necessary for continuing instruction or completing the course.
- Document and save key department contacts, including your Department Chair, Administrative Office Coordinator, or faculty colleagues who can assist if you are unavailable to access technology or provide direct communications to students.
- Create contact lists for each of your classes outside of iLearn, in Outlook Web Access, so they can be quickly available from any location.
- Consider creating a print out of emergency contacts, without any sensitive information, that can be stored in a wallet, purse, or other area that are often with you.
What will you (or your students) do if one should lose access to housing, food, or other basic necessities? [link to page on IC website]
- Direct students to the SF State Basic Needs site to receive housing, food and economic assistance during a crisis;
- Faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program for free financial and legal consulting and referrals to other support services;
- Faculty and staff displaced from their homes in an emergency may request temporary shelter from SF State housing, as available, by emailing Jim Tomkins-Raneyj <firstname.lastname@example.org> in SF State Conference Services.
- Due to health and safety measures, access to faculty offices is limited. Faculty members can reserve one of the six Group Study Rooms in the 1st floor Research Commons to use as an individual single occupancy teaching space by sending an email to email@example.com.
What will you (or your students) do if one should require mental health services or medical assistance? [link to page on IC website]
- Direct students experiencing emotional or psychological distress to the SF State Counseling and Psychological Services;
- Faculty and staff can access emergency mental health services and referrals from the SF State Counseling and Psychological Services, and more extensive support from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Center for Equity & Excellence in Teaching & Learning
Instructors can access support resources, participate in professional development opportunities, or contact CEETL directly to receive assistance transitioning course materials and activities to remote modalities.
CEETL continues to provide consultations over Zoom, by appointment Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The best way to get in touch with CEETL is to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students and instructors may contact AT for assistance in accessing and using teaching and learning technologies.
Academic Technology Services is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Which Learning Mode should I choose for Spring 2021?
The choice of learning mode, whether one chooses face-to-face, online, asynchronous, synchronous or bichronous, raises fundamental questions about how we uphold our campus mission of social justice in a global era of racial, health and economic pandemics. Throughout the FAQ are critical learning mode discussions related to CSU requirements, campus governance processes, the fiscally responsible stewardship of state funds, and most importantly our commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Responses to these frequently asked questions attempt to balance the intersecting perspectives at the system, campus, and individual levels, with a focus on student success.
Use this Learning Mode Decision Tree to determine which CSU Learning Mode most accurately defines your course:
CSU Fully Online is a searchable database that supports two purposes related to Learning Mode:
AB386: CSU Fully Online supports legislative compliance with AB386 by providing a searchable database for CSU students to find and register for fully online (LM01) courses that may have available seats at other CSU campuses. Campuses do not receive compensation for these enrollments and are expected to absorb the instructional costs.
CourseMatch: CSU Fully Online supports the opportunity for a CSU campus to voluntarily reserve a certain number of seats (minimum of 10) in a fully online course (usually LM01) to offer to external CSU students. If the course is accepted into the program, and if at least one external student enrolls in the course, then the host campus does receive compensation which may offset, but not completely cover, the instructional costs.
CSU Fully Online & AB386: CSU Fully Online supports compliance with AB386 by providing a searchable database for CSU students to find and register for fully online (LM01) courses that may have available seats at other CSU campuses.
Course Eligibility: Fully Online (LM01) describes courses conducted completely online in an asynchronous environment with no scheduled meeting or exam times. These courses are added to the CSU Fully Online database automatically, without the ability for exemption. Each campus determines a shortened enrollment window for AB386 courses, for SF State Fall 2020 it was August 17-23, during which time available seats for these courses were made visible to external CSU students.
Student Eligibility: Students are only able to enroll in one course at another campus, must meet certain eligibility requirements, and are only able to see these courses and register at a particular time during the enrollment window for AB386 courses, as determined by the host campus.
Student Impact: During the period that available seats are opened concurrently to SF State and CSU students, there is the chance that a late-enrolling SF State student would no longer have access to a seat that would have otherwise been available. In a more positive scenario, it is possible that an external CSU student may be provided the chance to complete a course that helps them move towards degree completion, with little additional impact on the workload of faculty or instructional cost to the institution.
Financial Impact: The tuition dollars for the external student remain at their home campus, so host campuses do not receive any compensation for these AB386 CSU Fully Online enrollments. As such, it may happen that SF State be obligated to deliver a course, and assume the instructional cost, of a course that would not have had enough local enrollments to prove viable otherwise. Some departments may see this as an opportunity to generate interest in their programs across the system which, in consultation with the college administration, might be seen as a worthy investment.
Course Eligibility & Process: Only fully online courses that have been approved by the CSU Chancellor’s Office are eligible to be listed as CourseMatch courses within CSU Fully Online. Although the CSU CO may consider other fully online learning modes (i.e. LM02, LM03, LM10), a general preference has gone to accepting fully online asynchronous (LM01) courses which also satisfy undergraduate general education requirements, have historically low DFW rates, and have benefitted from some level of campus sanctioned quality assurance process, such as when the instructor has completed the equivalent of the CEETL Online Teaching Lab.
Student Eligibility: At the start of the enrollment period, which for SF State was June 1 for Fall 2020, external students will be able to enroll in reserved CourseMatch seats until they are filled, and SF State students will be able to enroll in the regular class seats until those are filled. If, upon the end of the enrollment period there are still reserved CourseMatch seats remaining, SF State can then open those seats to SF State students.
Student Impact: Some SF State students may find that the course they want has filled and they are placed on a waiting list, even though other seats remain open to external students via CourseMatch. In these cases, the department may raise the enrollment cap of the course or reduce the number of reserved CourseMatch seats, as long as a minimum of 10 seats are still allocated for external students. Regardless, any open CourseMatch seats will be returned to the hosting campus prior to the start of the semester so that home students can enroll or be added from the waitlist.
Financial Impact: If a campus offers an approved CourseMatch course and at least one external student enrolls, the campus will receive a modest payment, generally up to $4,000 for the first 10 students, which can offset, but not completely cover, the instructional cost.
- As evidenced in the LM Decision Tree, LM03 is an ambiguous code since it may indicate that the course does, or does not have F2F class sessions. This is problematic from a student perspective, which is why LM10, rather than LM03, is recommended for bichronous courses in Spring 2021.
- There is no CSU established learning mode that communicates “optional” synchronous sessions in a fully online course, so LM10, with a note in the schedule and syllabus, is the only way to communicate this option at this time.
- Learning Modes 02, 03, 04, 06, 10 & 11 include synchronous online learning sessions. To ensure equity and access, faculty are encouraged to: 1) use these synchronous sessions for optional opportunities to deepen learning and build community, 2) provide asynchronous alternatives to synchronous learning opportunities and assessments, and 3) communicate this flexibility in the syllabus and in the notes in the course schedule. Synchronous sessions, even optional sessions, can only be scheduled during the regular timeblock for that course.
- LM11 only indicates that a course has intermittent F2F class sessions and there is no parallel code that indicates that a course has regularly scheduled F2F class sessions. Therefore, it is likely that LM11 will be incorrectly applied to both types of courses; an additional LM code is needed to resolve this issue.
- Although AB386 mandates that all fully online courses with available seats be made available to other external CSU students during a determined amount of time, the tuition dollars remain at the external student’s home campus while the host campus is obliged to assume the instructional cost. This is an important equity issue since it further burdens under-enrolled campuses with additional instructional cost, thus de-incentivising campuses to expand these offerings in support of state-wide student success. This is a critical issue for our campus not only in the COVID short-run, but also in the campus long-run since it is a likely assumption that the portion of courses taught online will continue remain higher than pre-COVID(>50%) and more CSU students will opt to attend their “local” campus after the crisis.
As illustrated in the decision tree above, courses may fall into many different learning mode (LM) categories based on the time and place of instruction. However, given the CSU mandate for primarily remote learning for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, the majority of SF State Spring courses will likely fall into LM01, LM02 & LM10; these are the modes discussed in this FAQ. Although LM03 also offers a bichronous option, the synchronous sessions are limited to the Orientation, Midterms and Final exams, so it does not allow the same flexibility that LM10 provides. There is no CSU established learning mode that communicates “optional” synchronous sessions, so LM10, with a note in the schedule and syllabus, is the best way to communicate this option. In all cases, synchronous sessions can only be held during the regularly scheduled course time block.
Please note that the CSU Chancellor’s Office has redefined the Learning Mode Values, effective CY 2020-2021, so these descriptions reflect our understanding of the most recent updates:
Asynchronous = Learning Mode 01. Asynchronous 24/7 web delivered instruction with no intermittent face to face meetings with students throughout the term. This learning mode is the only option for AB386 and CSU Fully Online course listings. Undergraduate courses in this learning mode are eligible to apply for CourseMatch.
Synchronous = Learning Mode 02. Synchronous web delivered instruction at pre-scheduled (weekly or biweekly) days/times. Synchronous sessions can only be scheduled during the regular timeblock for that course. Undergraduate courses in this learning mode are eligible for CourseMatch; courses in this learning mode are not eligible for AB386 or CSU Fully Online listing.
Bichronous= Learning Mode 10. Most flexible hybrid combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, in which synchronous sessions can take place on dates other than during orientation and exams (that scenario describes LM03). There is no CSU established learning mode that communicates “optional” synchronous sessions, so this learning mode, with a note in the schedule and syllabus, is the best way to communicate this option. To ensure equity and access for all students, faculty are encouraged to: 1) use synchronous sessions for optional opportunities to deepen learning and build community, 2) provide asynchronous alternatives to synchronous learning opportunities and assessments, and 3) communicate this flexibility in the syllabus and in the notes section in the course schedule. Synchronous sessions can only be scheduled during the regular timeblock for that course. Undergraduate courses in this learning mode are eligible for CourseMatch; courses in this learning mode are not eligible for AB386 or CSU Fully Online listing.
Here is a conceptual framework from Drew, Polly and Riszhaupt (2020) that presents the spectrum of bichronous learning:
As per Academic Senate Policy S19-264, department faculty, in consultation with college councils, are responsible for determining and reporting the learning mode for each course so that it is accurately communicated to students via the course schedule. Departments are most familiar with their faculty, students and disciplinary content and materials, and are ultimately responsible for ensuring the quality of education and student achievement of learning outcomes within their departments. There is no modality that can be determined universally superior to another, they all have a place in the spectrum of offerings within a university, so it is important for the departments to make informed decisions regarding the modality for each course. Departments need to ensure that faculty assigned to teach courses in any learning mode are appropriately prepared.
Faculty have a great deal of academic freedom within their courses, provided the course components support the achievement of the student learning outcomes and abide by the academic policies and laws expected for all learning modes. As per Academic Senate Policy S19-264, faculty members are expected to use teaching practices that are appropriate to the learning mode advertised in the class schedule, and to seek the professional development and support necessary to ensure a successful educational experience for their students. Although courses must be delivered using the learning mode approved by the department, an instructor teaching an online synchronous course may adapt to unforeseen circumstances by teaching a maximum of 15% of the class sessions during the semester using an asynchronous learning mode.
University-level courses in any modality offer students a certain level of independence in setting their own study schedule, and with that independence also comes an increased responsibility to establish healthy study skills and habits and ask for assistance when needed. Students are expected to identify and use the appropriate time management and study skills appropriate for the modality of the course, and to seek out and access campus resources, such as the SF State Learning Online 101 self-paced course offered by the Tutoring and Academic Success Center, to support their further development of these skills. Students should keep in mind that a three-unit course, regardless of its learning mode, generally requires a 9-hour weekly time commitment.
As per Online Education Policy (S19-264)
- A department’s faculty, in consultation with college councils, are responsible for deciding which courses (or sections) as well as which degree or certificate programs will be offered in a face-to-face, hybrid or fully online format.
- Although courses must be delivered using the learning mode approved by the department, an instructor teaching a face-to-face course may adapt to unforeseen circumstances by teaching a maximum of 15% of the class sessions during the semester using an online learning mode.
- Similarly, an instructor teaching a synchronous online course may choose to teach a maximum of 15% of the class sessions during the semester as asynchronous online sessions.
- Department chairs and students must be notified of the change in learning mode in either event.
- Conversion of greater than 15% of class sessions requires department approval and should only be done in extreme cases.
Yes, faculty can change the learning mode for up to 15% of a course without departmental approval or, in extreme cases, up to 100% with department approval. In both cases, the change can only move towards the more flexible option for the students (i.e. towards online asynchronous), and the students and the chair must be notified of this change.
The department faculty are the ones to determine which learning mode is appropriate for each course and should be fully informed about the benefits and challenges of each learning mode to make this decision. Nonetheless, given the extenuating circumstances of AY2020-21, departments are encouraged to consider the “bichronous” Learning Mode 10, since it supports the “best of both worlds” of synchronous and asynchronous learning.
To ensure equity and access for all students who do not have the resources or ability to attend in real-time, faculty are encouraged to: 1) use synchronous sessions for optional opportunities to deepen learning and build community, 2) provide asynchronous alternatives to synchronous learning opportunities and assessments, and 3) communicate this flexibility in the syllabus and in the notes section in the course schedule. There is no CSU established learning mode that communicates “optional” synchronous sessions, so LM10, with a note in the schedule and syllabus, is the best way to communicate this option. Synchronous sessions can only be scheduled during the regular timeblock for that course.
The next questions provide a more thorough discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of fully asynchronous, fully synchronous, and “bichronous,” which combines asynchronous and synchronous learning in the same online course.
Fully asynchronous learning offers students more flexibility in terms of managing time and access to resources such as a computer, reliable bandwidth, and a physical space conducive for learning. The asynchronous mode also provides more time to process content and think through responses, which is especially useful for people with disabilities and students who are speakers of other languages.
The primary advantage of synchronous online learning is the immediacy of student-instructor and student-student interactions, which can reduce the social and cognitive distance between the individuals in the course and contribute towards a stronger sense of community and belonging. Real-time interaction in a class setting is familiar and comfortable for many students and faculty, given their experience with traditional learning modes in face-to-face courses.
Recent studies have shown that a mixture of both synchronous and asynchronous, now commonly referred to as “bichronous,” activities in a fully online course may lead to improved student learning outcomes for some students. According to Drew, Polly and Riszhaupt (2020), research shows that when synchronous communication features are integrated with asynchronous aspects, the online course is more engaging, increasing learning outcomes, positive attitudes, and retention.
Although the addition of synchronous components to asynchronous online courses has been shown to increase engagement, persistence, and improved learning outcomes for some students, it is also important to consider the needs of students who lack the resources or ability to fully participate in synchronous activities due to a number of extenuating circumstances: they may not have regular access to a computer, reliable internet, or a private place to engage in the synchronous sessions; they may have taken on increased responsibilities to contribute to the household or care for family members; they may not feel comfortable vocalizing their personal or political perspectives in a synchronous session when living with family or others who do not share their views; or they may be dealing with other cognitive, emotional or physical challenges that they do not want to disclose.
To ensure the best chance of success for all students, faculty are encouraged to provide students with flexibility by leveraging the benefits of each learning mode. Asynchronous elements, such as readings, videos and forum discussions, allow students equitable access to the core course components required to achieve the learning outcomes, whereas optional synchronous activities, such as real-time course orientations, discussions, additional office hours and group-study time, can be used to deepen learning and create a sense of community and belonging for those who are able to participate. In all situations, synchronous sessions should only be scheduled during the timeblock posted in the course schedule to not conflict with other courses at that time.
The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers multiple forms of support to faculty and departments interested in learning more about teaching in these learning modes. To learn more, please visit the ceetl website to access resources, register for faculty development offerings, or request a consultation with an instructional designer.
Additional references related to synchronous and asynchronous learning are also listed below:
Martin, F., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., & Budhrani, K. (2017). Two Decades (1995 to 2014) of Systematic Review of Research on Synchronous Online Learning, American Journal of Distance Education, 31(1), 3-19
Martin, F., Polly, D., & Ritzhaupt, A. (September, 2020). Bichronous Online Learning: Blending Asynchronous and Synchronous Online Learning. Educause Review.
Peterson, A.T., Beymer, P.N, & Putnam, Synchronous and Asynchronous Discussions: Effects on Cooperation, Belonging, and Affect, Online Learning 22, no. 4 (2018): 7–25.
Yamagata-Lynch, L.C. Blending Online Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 15, no. 2 (2014): 189–2