Deliver Quality Instruction
UM is preparing to welcome students to campus in the fall for in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible. We acknowledge that there are still many variables at play in the health trends and recommended practices in our state, region and country. We will continue to work closely with public health officials to monitor the situation and adjust as needed.
These guidelines are in effect for all University of Montana campus sites including the Mountain campus, Missoula College campus, West campus, and the Bitterroot College campus as well as offsite instructional spaces (e.g., the YMCA, Snowbowl) during the 2021/22 academic year.
Mitigating Risk and Classroom Spacing
COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory at UM or the Montana University System. Our planning acknowledges that there will be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in our campus community.
On July 27, 2021, the CDC updated interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people, which includes wearing masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. This follows earlier recommendation that unvaccinated people wear masks indoors.
Mitigating the risk of COVID-19 will continue to be a priority. We will be back to near-normal capacities and pre-COVID-19 classroom scheduling, but classroom adjustments have been made to configure existing space and comply with ADA requirements, identify new space, and use course delivery methods to continue to provide in-person education in a safe and healthy manner.
The Office of the Provost and Registrar’s Office will use the terms below for instructional modalities. Please note that all course modalities should be finalized with the Registrar's Office by Wednesday, July 7th.
- Face-to-face: Students and faculty work together in a scheduled, in-person instructional space (Section numbers will be 01-25.)
- Remote: Students and faculty work together synchronously through web-based communication technology. There is not an additional course fee for these classes. Selecting the remote option means that mid-term and final exams will be conducted remotely. (Section numbers will begin with the letter R followed by a number 01-25. For example, a remote section of WRIT 101 will appear as WRIT 101.R01.).
- Hybrid or Blended: In-person and some virtual or online elements are combined, either synchronously or asynchronously. Students enrolled in hybrid/blended classes will pay an additional fee as approved by the Board of Regents. Section numbers for Hybrid will begin with the letter X followed by a number 01-25. For example, a hybrid section of WRIT 101 will appear as WRIT 101.X01. Section numbers for Blended will begin with the letter B followed by a number 01-25. For example, a blended section of WRIT 101 will appear as WRIT 101.B01. There are also videoconferencing classes that will indicated by the letter V. Blended/Hybrid courses are usually developed with support from UMOnline.
Below are the options for Hybrid/Blended:
- Blended Option A: Room holds entire class when meeting in-person for “seat time.”
- Blended Option B: Hybrid -- Entire class meets synchronously for “seat time” with some meeting in-person and some via Zoom. Please establish how many will meet in the room and how many will meet via ZOOM with students. (Note, this is the responsibility of the instructor to communicate this.)
- Blended Option C: Room will hold x number of students out of the maximum enrollment cap (e.g., room will hold 15 out of 30 students). Groups alternate for their in-person “seat time” meetings.
If an option isn't specified, the Registrar's Office will assume 50% or less of the class will meet at a time.
- Online: Learning and engagement does not require any in-person meetings and are asynchronous (with a possibility of a few select synchronous events) to allow students flexibility to access learning, all within the due dates established by the instructor.
- Students enrolled in online classes will pay an online course fee as approved by the Board of Regents. (Section numbers will be 50-65.) Online courses are usually developed with support from UMOnline. Instructors new to teaching online or developing new online courses should contact the UMOnlineIDs@umontana.edu for support at least a semester before the course start date.
In regards to the fees for various modalities, the University of Montana Fee schedules may be found here: Mandatory Fees and Non-Mandatory Fees. Also, for all classes employing face-to-face or hybrid modalities, instructors are encouraged to prepare several online modules that would allow the class to continue remotely or online in the event of a change to university operations.
Accommodations for Students
As UM returns primarily to face-to-face classes, it’s anticipated that most students will be attending classes in person. If a student requires a COVID-related accommodation in order to safely attend, they should be referred to the Office of Disability Equity (ODE) (formerly Disability Services for Students). ODE will work with the student and their advisor on a case-by-case basis.
Telecommuting and Accommodations for Faculty
As shared earlier this summer, all telecommuting agreements (including those not related to or resulting from COVID-19) must be updated using a new form available on the HRS website that requires annual evaluation and renewal. Employees will work with their supervisor to complete a new form if their work location will continue to include a remote location.
Employees requesting to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation for a disability must contact Michele Wheeler of Human Resource Services to confidentially discuss their request. Employees who currently are telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation for a disability must contact Michele Wheeler regarding the status of their accommodation.
Professional Development Opportunities
The UM Office of the Provost, in conjunction with UMOnline and the OOLD, will provide training resources for instructors through a number of channels:
- The Keep on Teaching website has a page called Training and Support, which lists current trainings, online supports, and sign-ups for office hours with UMOnline instructional designers. A downloadable student support document that can be included in all syllabi. The website will continue to be updated as more supports are added.
- UMOnline has provided a series of micro-lecture videos in the self-enrollable Online Course Development Tutorial, which is based on the content provided in previous course development cohorts. These videos and resources provide foundational information for fully developed online and blended courses, as well as resources for those who want a robust Moodle shell for remote, hybrid, or face-to-face courses. For faculty developing fully online or blended courses, please contact Nancy Clouse or firstname.lastname@example.org to get paired up with an instructional designer for one-on-one support.
- UMOnline Instructional Designers offer live online ID Office Hours to provide one-on-one support to faculty with specific questions on using Moodle, course development support, and online pedagogy consultation.
- Online synchronous Moodle Basics workshops will be scheduled and announced on the Moodle Landing page and via UMToday and the OOLD website. Asynchronous micro-lectures of Moodle Basics will also be made available with links on both the Moodle landing page and the Training and Support webpage.
- There are two self-paced, self-enrollable resources as well: Moodle Basics for Faculty is an online tutorial that consists of multiple modules on using Moodle that faculty can view in any order. Engaging Teaching Practices is an online course that focuses on pedagogy, online teaching strategies and Universal Design for Learning principles. Faculty can read about specific topics and/or complete the entire course for a certificate of completion. Links to both these courses are on the Training and Support webpage.
- OOLD is still offering resources through its Distance Teaching page, including resources on hybrid teaching.
- Support for using active learning in your classrooms is offered through the undergraduate Learning Assistant (LA) program. Faculty have found learning assistants to be very helpful in supporting student understanding and engagement in both online and in-person courses. The LA program also offers consultations directly to faculty on ways to implement active learning.
IT Support and Upcoming Technology Enhancements
Faculty are invited to meet with an IT specialist to walk through how classroom technology and software such as webcams, microphones and lecture capture can be used to support teaching. Contact these specialists with questions or to arrange an appointment:
- Scott Christensen, Classroom Support Technician, 243-5322
- David Opitz, Classroom Technician, 243-5217
- Adam Carroll, Presentation Equipment/Production Supervisor, 243-4875
- Many different types of equipment are available to support faculty teaching and learning needs from the library. You may request and reserve equipment online or by calling 243-4875.
Over the summer, UM IT will be working on several projects in preparation for fall instruction. This will include replacing over 800 wireless access points across campus that will have greater throughput and will support a higher number of clients. IT will also be adding outdoor wireless capability to several locations across campus. Technology will be upgraded in 30 classrooms around campus; many in Math, Eck Hall, Forestry and the North Underground Lecture Hall will be getting a complete overhaul including paint, flooring and furniture. Many other classrooms will be getting smaller technology upgrades to improve their active learning capabilities. The Social Science, University Center, Math and Chemistry buildings will be getting network/wireless upgrades as well.
We will also be updating over 50 computer labs across campus to accommodate higher occupancy. Please note that UM IT has partnered with schools to make available the ASSIST lab and remote labs to provide campus licensed software to students who may need remote access to applications such as Adobe products, ArcGIS or SPSS.
Use of Third Party Course Materials and Tools
Use of third-party and publisher materials need to be tested by UM's Accessible Technology Services (ATS) well in advance of use for instructional delivery. This process can take 2-6 weeks so pre-planning is imperative. Requests to ATS are made by selecting Request Service at the Software and Hardware Accessibility Review site.
There is also a new tool in Moodle, called Ally, to check and make recommendations on improving accessibility of course content. Please read about how Ally works on the UMOnline Ally website and request support from ATS for remediating materials.
In the past year, recordings of in-person and remote courses have allowed students to access content from a missed class and review content multiple times. Support for video recording will continue this year, including lecture capture, Camtasia, Zoom, as well as the One Button and Lightboard Studios located in the Mansfield Library. Contact Media Technology Services if you want guidance on how to record your in-person classes.
Online Activities and Assessments
A key challenge in hybrid, remote and online classes is to design fair, comprehensive, and meaningful ways to assess student performance. In addition, the strategies below are ways to make up for possible reduced class time. The following resources provide helpful ideas and advice:
- The Faculty Playbook from the Online Learning Consortium.
- UT-Arlington slide deck on online assessment.
- A list of resources for effective online assessment.
- Ideas for alternative and asynchronous student activities and assessments to use in remote and online courses. The use of authentic and alternative assessments is highly encouraged, an academically sound practice, and well-received by students.
- Tips for Using Online Tests in Moodle.
- The Testing Center is a proctoring option and has limited capacity for in-person proctoring of exams.
Hands-on experiential learning is critical to UM students and to a broad range of academic programs. Our goal is to maintain focus on student learning through experiential education and use innovative methods to move students forward under these difficult
circumstances. Regardless of experiential learning modality, we will continue to honor Title IX, HIPAA, and FERPA regulations, as well as CDC and local and state governmental health guidelines.
Whenever possible, face-to-face experiential learning should continue at UM and be prioritized and supported. In order to facilitate experiential learning while mitigating the risk posed by COVID-19, UM administrators and faculty should:
- Communicate expectations that all participants will comply with UM mask policies (i.e. masks are required in classroom, labs, and shared vehicles).
- Establish discipline-specific or experience-specific course requirements whenever relevant. These requirements should reflect professional/industry
- Designate larger classroom and performance spaces when necessary/appropriate to observe recommended physical distancing for discipline-specific experiential learning (e.g. performing arts, clinics, science labs).
- Divide larger experiential learning groups into smaller groups where possible/appropriate.
- To the extent possible, allocate additional funds for software, equipment, and cleaning supplies and services to enable experiential learning in the context of COVID.
Decisions about additional guidelines for specific experiences will need to be course-, discipline-, or field- specific (again, all experiential learning needs to comply with UM policy – masks are required in classrooms, labs, and shared vehicles). Additional guidelines should be developed by individual faculty (where they provide experiential learning that is specific to their course) or by programs/colleges (where guidelines will be applicable to multiple courses in a program or college). Again, these additional guidelines should reflect current CDC guidelines and UM General Health and Safety Guidelines, as well as professional and industry standards (e.g. field courses might rely on resources provided by the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education). When necessary, faculty and programs can consult with members of the UM Health Advisory Group.