This page is an archive of COVID response resources. It is no longer being updated.
Spring 2022 Remote Start
For faculty teaching in person classes, do the virtual sessions in January need to be synchronous (during the time they would normally be in the classroom) or can they be asynchronous?
We strongly recommend holding synchronous sessions at your course's ordinary meeting time. That said, these sessions can be asynchronous – but professors should set their Canvas site to "early access" and publish the course as soon as possible and send an announcement to students explaining how the first two weeks will run. Remember that this timeframe includes add/drop, so students need to know what to expect.
We very strongly encourage all instructors to include in that announcement their availability for synchronous office hours.
For additional information about the Spring 2022 remote start, please visit the Rutgers–New Brunswick Campus Status FAQ and the Office of the Chancellor-Provost's summary of updated FAQs.
Who owns the videos or other materials that I create and post for my course?
In most circumstances, you do. Rutgers University Policy 50.3.7 says:
Faculty, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants also own copyright to pedagogical materials, including materials in electronic format or posted to a website, that they develop in the regular course of their teaching duties using resources ordinarily available to all or most faculty members (as described in the section of this policy concerning Use of Substantial University Resources).
Departments that provide substantial university resources to support the development of online courses may have policies about ownership of course materials developed using these resources. Contact your department for more details.
How can I estimate how much time a student will spend on my course?
Estimating student workload for remote and online courses can be a challenge. Under federal, state, and university regulations, one college credit requires one hour of classroom time and approximately two additional hours of work outside the classroom per week for a 15-week semester. Since remote and online course formats vary widely, the focus should be on total time-on-task for the average student while ensuring adequate instructor-student interaction.
These resources will help you estimate your course hours:
- Results from these tools depend on the assumptions you put in (e.g., how much study time you estimate for exams). The use of these tools can create the illusion of greater precision than we can really have.
- These tools should be used as a ballpark estimator and to check your intuitions about how much work you’re assigning, not to fine-tune until you have exactly 45 hours per credit.
- Remember that the credit-hour-to-time ratio is based on the time the average student would need to invest; these tools provide an estimate of something that is highly variable.
To promote transparency and help students gauge the amount of time they should be devoting to your course, you can include time-on-task estimates in the information you provide them in Canvas (for example, when posting a reading or graded assignment).
How should I handle administering exams remotely?
Policies for scheduling final exams during remote instruction can be found here.
While Respondus Monitor is available for proctoring exams online, we strongly recommend finding alternatives to proctored exams wherever possible. Visit this page for a wide range of suggested alternatives, including advice for quantitative disciplines provided by the Rutgers Math Department.
Should I require students to turn on their webcams in my synchronous class?
We recommend against requiring students to turn on their cameras, for several reasons:
- Many students lack access to a private or quiet space during class.
- Many students lack adequate bandwidth to maintain a stable video connection.
- Organizations dealing with online sexual harassment and victimization have pointed out that for students who have been the victim of online sexual harassment, including trafficking of images and deep fakes, having their image presented on-screen can recreate trauma and heighten anxiety.
Virtual backgrounds in zoom can help to address some of these concerns, but many students have devices that do not support virtual backgrounds.
- Encourage but do not require students to turn cameras on.
- Consider focusing camera expectations on aspects of class that involve more participation, for instance breakout room discussions or Q&A sessions.
- Be sure that there is a no-fault way for students to request exceptions without being singled out or needing to disclose their living situation or other personal details.
One strategy (discussed in more detail here): on the first day of class, have the class collectively discuss some options for a video use policy, and vote on a policy to adopt for the class. This gives students an opportunity to identify their biggest concerns; it can also generate student buy-in to whatever policies end up being adopted.
Another strategy (discussed in more detail here): explain to students how teaching becomes more difficult for you as more students' cameras are turned off, and give a rough estimate of what proportion of cameras being turned off will have a negative impact on your teaching. The professor who used this strategy reported that students seem to self-regulate once they have this information.
This article provides an in-depth examination of the reasons students do not turn their cameras on, cross-tabulated by demographic characteristics, and discusses a number of strategies for addressing that issue.
What technology requirements can I reasonably expect of students in my remote classes? What resources are available for students who don't have the necessary technology?
We’ve found the following requirements are typically the bare minimum to support most remote instruction:
- High speed internet
- A laptop or desktop computer. If the computer does not have a built-in microphone and camera, students will need a separate webcam with a microphone, which can be purchased online for under $50.
Students who have difficulties with technology access should consult the Rutgers Technology Resources for Students page. Included on that page is a list of providers that may be offering free or low-cost internet access to students during the Covid-19 crisis. Students who indicate they have limited internet access or do not have access to a laptop or desktop should also be referred to the Dean of Students.
Students purchasing equipment should be advised to shop for the best available price. Kite+key is the Rutgers Technology Store and a limited number of products are offered at an educational discount there.
What software resources are available for students?
The University Software Portal at Rutgers offers various discounted and licensed software for faculty, staff, and students, including Microsoft Office.
Also please see the resources linked under the previous question.
You should be aware of some limitations on virtual computer lab use:
- Be sure to see the information in this article about printing and saving files.
- Multimedia performance, including video playback, will be reduced.
- Clients must have a HTML5 web browser, and they will have the best user experience connecting from devices with a keyboard and mouse.
If you have questions or need assistance using virtual computer labs, please reach out to the Office of Information Technology Help Desk.
Do I need to get consent from my students before recording a synchronous session?
It is best practice for an instructor to record synchronous sessions for students who are unable to attend. You can add a statement in your syllabus and remind students that you will be recording during the synchronous session. You can pause the recording if you are sending students into breakout rooms or when students share questions or comments, especially if you feel the recording is inhibiting students from participating in the course.
Class recordings should only be shared inside the course LMS and not in any public forums such as YouTube. If you download an MP4 video recording file from Zoom or Webex, you can upload it to Kaltura and share it with your students through your course LMS. Kaltura also automatically includes machine-generated captions.
If you choose to share the chat log with your students, please keep in mind that the messages sent by any students who privately chat with you will be saved as a part of that file. It is best to edit the chat file to remove private chat text sent to just you and keep the chat text that was sent to everyone.
I’m worried that some of my students are disengaged, haven’t participated, or aren’t completing their work. What should I do?
First, use the tools available in your course site to check students’ participation. In Canvas, use the Student Interactions Summary and the Course Access Report. In Sakai, you can use Sakai Statistics. This will give you a clearer picture of students’ engagement in your class.
Many universities are doing this sort of outreach systematically because they use a single learning management system and can tell which students have logged in and which haven't. Unfortunately, at Rutgers we do not currently have a mechanism to systematically monitor student engagement. Hence we rely on individual faculty.
If you identify students who are not engaged, we strongly encourage you to reach out to them individually. Provide encouragement and flexibility wherever possible.
You should also report students of concern using this form. This is a secure and confidential reporting system that is reviewed by the Dean of Students and several other Rutgers offices. You can also contact the SAS Office of Advising and Academic Services to see if their advising records indicate that the student has checked in.
How should I grade students who “disappear”—who stop attending or completing work or who need additional time to complete coursework?
The following are some general guidelines:
- For students that “disappear” during the semester:
- If the completed work is strong enough, you can issue a C.
- If the student’s work was not strong enough, issue a grade of F or D rather than a T grade. And, if the student later reappears and wants to complete the course, a grade change from F, D, or NC to an appropriate letter grade will be possible.
- For students that need additional time to complete coursework:
- T grades should only be used when the student has made specific arrangements with you to make up the missing work, preferably before the beginning of the next semester. As noted above, if the student later resurfaces and you would like to allow them to complete coursework, regular grades can be later raised.
- T grades can never be lowered. Even with specific plans with the student, you should submit the letter grade the student would receive if they never submitted any additional work with a T prefix.
- It is preferrable to submit TF grades rather than TZ grades since TFs are more effective in alerting students that they need to follow up with the instructor. Like TF grades, TZ grades revert to Fs at the end of the subsequent semester.
- Remember that all instructors need to submit regular letter grades for each student: faculty cannot submit P/NC grades. All changes to P/NC will be made by the registrar while maintaining a confidential record of the actual letter grades faculty submitted.
What mental health resources are available for students?
CAPS services are available by tele-health and phone. For guidance on referring students to CAPS, see this page.
What resources are available to help students learn remotely?
The Learning Centers continue to offer tutoring, academic coaching, writing support, study groups, and in-class support online. Students should visit https://rlc.rutgers.edu/remote_instruction for more information about how to access remote services and contact the Learning Center staff.
The Learning Centers have created a guide for successful online learning. Please share this resource with your students. They have also developed an online training course for peer leaders (tutors, academic coaches, study group leaders, etc.) who will be providing services remotely. If you supervise peer leaders and would like them to complete this training module, please e-mail email@example.com.
How do students reach SAS Advising and Academic Services remotely?
SAS Advising and Academic Services is providing drop-in Live Chat and by-appointment virtual meetings with advisors. Please refer students to https://sasundergrad.rutgers.edu for hours of availability and links to access these services. When possible, encourage students to schedule advising appointments ahead of time. Students enrolled in other Rutgers-New Brunswick schools can get contact information for their school’s advising resources here.
How do we handle disability accommodations online?
Disability accommodations are still in force. The Office of Disability Services has information for faculty, including best practices, guidelines for implementing accommodations, and contact information, here.
Captioning online videos is an important aspect of online accessibility. Kaltura videos are automatically captioned using automatic speech recognition. This service provides 70-95% accuracy. Video owners will need to review and edit their captions for accuracy.
What if I have students in different time zones around the world?
Students in another time zone can have difficulty participating in live (synchronous) class sessions or office hours held via Zoom.
This is one reason that we recommend posting recorded lectures and using other asynchronous tools, such as discussion forums, for student interaction. If you do choose to hold live sessions, there are several ways to ensure that students in other time zones are not unfairly disadvantaged:
- Hold live sessions during regularly scheduled class times to ensure that students don’t encounter scheduling conflicts.
- Do not penalize students’ grades for failure to attend live sessions.
- Record live sessions and post the recordings in Canvas or Sakai for students to view.
- Supplement synchronous sessions with asynchronous ways for students to participate in the class, for instance discussion forums.
- Make individualized arrangements to meet one-on-one at a time that works for both of you.
Students should not be required to all start exams or other timed assignments at the same time. Rather, you can set a time limit for completing an exam or assignment, but allow students to begin at any time within a 24 hour window. For instance, you can allow students to begin an exam at any point between noon on Tuesday and noon on Wednesday, but once they have begun the exam, require that they complete the exam within one hour. To accommodate students in multiple time zones, you should always use a 24-hour window. Both Canvas and Sakai enable this. More information about administering remote exams and alternative assessments is available here.
Remote Teaching Tools
How can I prevent outsiders from joining a synchronous remote teaching session and behaving inappropriately? (This is sometimes called “Zoom bombing.
Rutgers IT offers guidance on web conferencing security, including key tips to avoid Zoombombing and unwanted meeting guests. Zoom provides these guidelines for keeping crashers out of Zoom events.
Anyone with the link to a Zoom meeting (or your “personal meeting room”) can enter the meeting. For this reason, it is important not to post meeting links on publicly accessible websites. Using a personal room is particularly risky; we recommend against using personal rooms for course meetings. You can review this guidance for sharing your Zoom meeting or webinar securely.
There have also been some reports of enrolled students behaving disruptively in online courses. This page on Managing Participants in a Zoom Meeting provides more information on using Zoom to manage students and other attendees.
It is also important to clearly and directly communicate your expectations to students, including norms for respectful behavior and appropriate avenues for participation or engagement. Keep in mind that students are enrolled in many remote-instruction courses in which the norms and expectations for engagement may vary widely. (A small discussion-based course may encourage voice participation, for instance, while a larger course may require students to use the chat function or other methods to ask questions and participate.) Clear communication and regular reminders will help to reduce student stress and increase useful, appropriate participation.
If you have questions on how to avoid Zoombombing or the use of web conferencing systems at Rutgers, please contact SAS IT.
How should I respond to inappropriate behavior in a synchronous remote teaching session?
Stay calm. If you are able, remove the participant engaging in inappropriate behavior. If you are having difficulty removing the participant, commit to following up with the class via e-mail and end the Zoom meeting. Follow up to discuss how you will resume meeting.
After the participant has been removed, discuss the incident with your students:
- Acknowledge the incident and its negative impact on the class.
- Give students an opportunity to share their feelings about the incident.
- Discuss what can be done to rebuild a feeling of safety in the course.
These recommendations are adapted from this in-depth guide on responding to zoombombing.
What should I do if Zoom/Big Blue Button/Kaltura/WebEx/the tool I planned to use isn’t working?
First, contact the helpdesk. They may be able to help resolve the issue; at a minimum, they will be able to track and follow up on it. Be flexible and ready to shift to low-bandwidth alternatives, at least occasionally. This page provides some useful alternatives to high-bandwidth videoconferencing.
To consult about your specific circumstances, email us and a member of the Teaching and Learning team will get back to you.
What do I do if my Canvas site runs out of space due to uploaded videos and other materials?
Whenever possible, use Kaltura for recorded video, as Kaltura videos do not take up space. If your site reaches capacity, contact the TLT Help Desk to request more space. However, please be aware that large amounts of video may pose significant access problems for students with limited or low-speed internet access.
Are there any resources specifically directed at transitioning graduate courses to remote instruction?
Notwithstanding our home in the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Teaching and Learning Team is available to provide assistance to all SAS instructors whether they are transitioning a graduate or undergraduate course. For information on what SGS is offering, please email SGS Assistant Dean Ramazan Gungor, Ph.D.