COVID-19 Tips and Updates

Hello, UHPers!

We know this is a rough time for everyone due to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) outbreak and the precautionary measures everyone is needing to take at this time. We have some updates for you about UHP operations, and then a note from the Director of the program about the shift to online instruction, as well as tips for you as you navigate being students in that context.

UHP COVID-19 Related Updates:

All UHP courses will be taught online from March 23 through April 5.

  • The UHP Townhouse will be closed to student socialization during that period, as group gatherings on campus are being discouraged…
  • …but, we are going to be launching the Digital Townhouse Project during this time! We want to make sure you can still have spaces to engage in community, even if you aren’t on campus. To learn more about it, click here.
  • WebEx virtual one-on-one advising meetings will be available – you will sign up online as usual.
  • First-year small group advising will be shifted to online virtual sessions – attendance
    remains mandatory. You will receive more information on how to access these sessions from Brianna and Ben soon.
  • Trivia Night (which would have been held on March 29th ) is cancelled :(.
  • If campus does fully re-open on schedule and you are unable to make it back on time (for example, if you become ill or are quarantined), please let your instructors and Ben or Brianna know!

A Note from the Director:

As GW will now be officially moving instruction online from at least March 23 through April 5, let me take a moment to talk about how UHP faculty and staff hope our students will react to this shift. I will also provide some tips for maximizing your learning in the online environment. First of all (as has been said before) please plan to be patient and flexible. Some faculty have never taught online before and so a learning curve is to be expected. For a planned online course, an instructor would have spent many months beforehand training on the relevant technological tools and designing the course specifically for the online environment. Obviously, this won’t be the case for your current classes. That said, please know that your instructors will be doing their absolute bests over the next few weeks to make sure you continue to master course content and skills.

We always talk about the “intellectual omnivorousness” of UHP students – which must, by definition, include a willingness and desire to be a truly self-directed learner. This interest, independence, and self-motivation are key to helping you succeed intellectually for the remainder of the semester. We hope you choose to envision a few weeks of online learning not as a burden or a “less-than” experience, but as an interesting educational experiment and an opportunity to mature and develop as an adult learner. Effort will be required, but if you put in the effort you will be rewarded with knowledge.

Communication is going to be incredibly important in the coming month. Please read all email very carefully and check for Blackboard announcements regularly. Be in contact with all your professors as soon as possible if you expect any technology challenges while off campus (for example, if you won’t have access to a stable internet connection). Some faculty will hold class using synchronous (real time, interactive) online sessions. These sessions can only be held during the standard class time band (e.g. a course that meets M/W 12:45-2pm EDT can only meet online during those exact times) – this is to ensure that no student will have a time conflict between two different online sessions. This means, however, that students who will be living outside the Eastern Daylight time zone may need to attend a session at an odd local time. You should communicate directly with your professor if this is the case, but please realize that faculty members are not authorized to change class meeting times and may still require you to attend.

Even online, collaborative work with your peers is likely to remain an important part of your learning. Working with your peers online requires clear peer-to-peer communication, of course. Plan to use various online tools that are designed for distance collaboration, such as Google Doc and Slides. GW students also have access to WebEx, which will allow you to work directly through video conferencing and desktop sharing.

Finally, a quick guide to being an online learner:

How to be a student in a synchronous online course:

1. Prepare just like you would for any class session (complete the assigned reading, come with questions, etc.).

2. Find a quiet place with a stable internet connection where it is also okay for you to talk aloud if the course will include a discussion component. Whenever possible, use a computer with a camera and microphone (if need be, however, that you can login to Blackboard Collaborate via your computer but then use a phone to call in/speak). Before you activate your camera, check around you to make sure nothing embarrassing will show up with the camera field of view!

3. Login at least 10 minutes early for the first online class meeting to make sure that the software is functioning correctly.

4. In Blackboard Collaborate, you will enter the classroom both muted and with your camera off. Be sure to activate your camera but keep your microphone muted until you need to speak to avoid background noise (e.g. typing, dogs barking).

5. Use the “raise your hand” button if you have a question. Alternatively, you can type questions into the chat function. Remember to unmute yourself when it is time to speak.

How to be a student in an asynchronous online course:

1. Check for new Blackboard announcements and assignments daily.

2. Consider pretending like the class is meeting at its regularly scheduled time and use that “in class time” to complete online assignments and activities. At minimum, keep careful track of due dates to avoid scrambling/cramming at the last minute.

3. Keep in mind that even if a faculty member will not be grading every assignment you have been asked to complete, you are cheating yourself out of learning the material if you do not make an effort to do the work.

4. If you are asked to participate in a text discussion via the Blackboard Forum, here are some tips for participating in an online discussion board.

5. Read all directions carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear.

6. Make use of instructor “virtual office hours.”

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