Faculty Resources

Based on the current scenario, MSE is committed to enabling all enrolled students to complete their spring classes according to the normal academic calendar. Advising will also proceed on the normal timeline (course signups are from 3/23 to 4/9).

At the same time, we are responding to a still-developing crisis, and as such the normal content, assessment, methods, expectations, and advising can and will evolve. We will all need to adapt as some course content, delivery methods, assessment tools, etc., necessarily shift from the original syllabus. Our primary objective should remain to provide core content and rigor in order to maintain continuity for next-level courses and success beyond graduation, and generally all of us remaining healthy and productive.

Courses and Advising

Advisors should contact students directly via email with specific details. Instructors should communicate with students by email and/or HuskyCT.

Official resources for shifting instruction online (note new resources are being added daily)

Best practices for online instruction:

  • Underlying theme: Keep it Simple
    • Think recorded lectures, posted notes and slides, etc.
    • Synchronous web-based classes would be ideal, but may be impractical due to bandwidth limitations, uneven student access to the requisite technology, etc.
    • More specific suggestions follow in the FAQ’s.
  • Where to start (by Sarira Motaref’s, CEE/CETL): 8 quick slides to kickstart online instruction
  • Basics: Collection of the most useful instructions, especially for HuskyCT and Kaltura
  • Pre-recording video lectures via Kaltura, for anytime viewing and incorporation into Husky CT
  • Real-time online classes through HuskyCT via “Collaborate Ultra
  • Real-time online classes through WebEx (share your screen with our without audio and/or video, private or full audience chat panel, etc.).
  • Real-time discussion boards (in HuskyCT)
  • Online teaching in general
  • What are other MSE departments doing?
    • The University Materials Council has created a rapidly expanding document of how we are all experiencing and coping with the developing situation. Columns C:F may especially give ideas for how we might proceed in our various classes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are we allowed to use our office, lab, meeting spaces, and classrooms?

A: Yes, but we are all advised to work from offsite as much as possible.

Q: What about research and labs?

A: The IMS will remain open, as will most facilities and core functions for the university. Presumably there will be reduced staffing and availability. Research is expected to continue, although flexibility needs to be extended for those who have the right to remain offsite. In general, we are all advised to work from elsewhere as much as possible. Best practices are to maintain as much social distance as possible. This is probably a great time for focusing on writing papers/theses/proposals/reports.

Q: Will the MSE and SOE staff be in the office?

A: We prioritize the health and safety of our staff, faculty, and students. We will remain busy, but from off-site as much as possible. Please assume that all business will be conducted online.

Q: My students have questions. Where can they go for help?

A: We have a similar resource page for students here.

Q: Can I set up my computer for remote access?

A: Yes, there are helpful instructions here to implement Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop.

Q: If a student wants to meet in person, is that allowed?

A: At this time, this is at your discretion. However, the university is encouraging that personal contact and campus access be minimized whenever possible.

Q: If a thesis defense needs to proceed, can this be as a teleconference or videoconference?

A: Yes, the graduate school has clarified that this is indeed allowed.

Q: What are acceptable options for teaching while we are encouraged to stay away from campus?

A: There are many approaches, depending on the style, level, and remaining class objectives. Without being ‘in the room’ to gauge understanding, it is especially recommended to assign supporting study guides, questions, quizzes, or online discussions/chats to reinforce the content.

  • Make use of HyskyCT’s tools for student interaction (synchronous or not). This includes Q/A with the professor and/or TA’s, Q/A among students, chat-rooms for group projects, etc.
  • Present slides of normal course content to the class electronically during the normal course period (Collaborate Ultra or WebEx)
  • Prerecord and share slides or video of normal course content (Kaltura, or even just powerpoint). Expect students to digest this content asynchronously.
  • Assign readings of the textbook or other materials in lieu of some lectures.
  • Crowdsource the learning. Have the students create a wiki (available in HuskyCT) about various topics covered in the course. For example, each student can upload a page about a unique topic one week, then in the following week they should add to and/or critique one or more of the pages created by others in the class.
  • Instead of waiting until the end of the term for individual or group projects, assign and assess them in the next few weeks. It is possible that we will return to regular instruction later in April.

Q: Who owns any online content I create?

A: You, the faculty, do. You can retain copies for your own future use as well if prepared and implemented using UConn’s technology (HuskyCT, Kaltura, Collaborate Ultra, WebEx, etc.).

Q: Should I broadcast my lecture online during the normally scheduled times (synchronous learning), or pre-record my content and allow individualized access (asynchronous learning)?

A: Either are acceptable, though it is recommended that live broadcasts also be recorded for later viewing. This is an option with both Collaborate Ultra and WebEx.

  • If you pre-record your lectures, make sure that they become available at regular intervals during the week and that the students are aware of what is available and when.
  • If you broadcast your lectures, you should only do that during the pre-scheduled class times, so that students can plan their schedule

Q: Can I use content for my class from elsewhere (Youtube, etc.)?

A: Of course anything in the public domain is available for use. Many of our course textbooks also include digital content that may be shared with students through HuskyCT. You can embed YouTube videos directly on HuskyCT. Of course proper referencingshould always be maintained.

Q: What kind of software or hardware do I need to shift a class online?

A: You need a computer with a microphone and ideally a camera. You can use your home or office computer, or get access to high tech classrooms if you do not have one available. If you want to be able to write on an interactive surface to project (available in Collaborate Ultra), you can do so with a regular mouse, but it will be more convenient to use a touchscreen laptop, Microsoft Surface or similar interface. Collaborate Ultra is supported on Chrome browser for PC/Android and Safari for Apple devices.

Q: Can I assign my TA to help me with lecture preparation and recording?

A: Absolutely, even though TA’s may be offsite like most of the UConn community, they are still expected to contribute weekly to their courses according to their contracts. Recommended activities include preparing questions, facilitating technology concerns while you are lecturing, creating online assessments in HuskyCT, grading electronically submitted assignments, assisting with transferring

Q: What if a student or TA does not have a computer and/or an internet connection?

A: This will undoubtedly be a challenge for some students, and cannot be dismissed.

  • Several, though not all functions, in HuskyCT are accessible via mobile devices.
  • If the student is on campus, they will still have access to the SOE computer lab.
  • Students can also check-out a laptop for up to four hours from the UConn library.
  • The School of Engineering IT staff is currently working on possible solutions for remote access to some of the advanced software hosted in the SOE computer labs, though this will still require a personal computer and Internet connection.

Q: Is there a way to give an online exam where students can’t simultaneously access the web for help?

A: A “lockdown browser” function is available within HuskyCT, which effectively locks all internet connectivity other than the online test for a fixed period of time. Of course students could still use another device, so as with any takehome assessment, instructors need to encourage an honor code and ask questions that are not easily ‘googled.’

Q: Are advising and Fall 2020 course signups proceeding as usual?

A: Yes. 

  • Mandatory advising for all students can be held via WebEx, Skype, phone, or email if necessary.
    • Remember that students can only process their Fall course signups once you lift their advising hold.
  • Here are several useful details regarding advising:
    • Fall 2020 registration beginsfor students with the most credits (121+) on Monday, March 23 at 9am. Enrollment should be completed or all students by Wednesday, April 9.
    • UConn summer registration for ALL students also begins Monday, March 23 at 9am.
    • Students will be able to make changes to their summer and fall schedules through May 15. On May 15, Student Admin’s add/drop function will “close” to current students for summer Orientation, and reopens for students to make changes only after July 22.
    • Students with (delinquent) remaining “EOD” Dean/Director holds for scholastic probation must complete their Academic Recovery and Engagement Plan, and email the academic recovery advisor listed on the same site.
    • Preliminary plans of study (students with 54+ completed credits, one-time requirement) also carry a hold. Please review these in a timely way, or you will delay a student’s registration.

Q: What about summer payroll for myself, and for my students?

A:  Summer payroll is currently being processed. If you are working this summer, Lorri Lafontaine will inform you as soon as approval is received from Human Resources.  Please contact Lorri with questions.