Faculty have flexibility with course delivery modes

Though the semester is well underway, faculty continue to have flexibility to decide how their courses should be delivered and whether any changes in delivery mode would be temporary or for the remainder of the semester.

"Faculty know their students, courses and the learning objectives in the curriculum the very best. I trust each and every faculty member to make decisions about their courses," senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said in a virtual town hall with senior leaders Aug. 31.

In a memo distributed after the town hall, Wickert reiterated a point first made in June: While engaged, hands-on instruction is a crucial aspect of an Iowa State education that students value, no instructor will be forced to teach in-person classes.

Wickert outlined the general process for changing a course's delivery mode and what factors should be considered. The first step is for faculty to contact the department chair or, for teaching assistants or graduate student instructors, the instructor of record or course coordinator. That discussion should involve the college's associate dean for academic affairs, who approves any modifications to course delivery.  

Changes to course delivery involved multiple considerations. In addition to the faculty member's personal risk assessment, Wickert said the number of absent students and the content, level and teaching methods for the course should factor in. Potential changes also should take into account any impact on program accreditation, international student immigration rules and timely graduation plans.

Working with advisers and student affairs staff, faculty also should try to accommodate students who want to modify their course schedules to take more in-person or online classes, Wickert said. Options include remote participation, moving to a different section of the course or swapping with a course planned in the spring, he said. An Aug. 5 memo provided guidance on how to handle student absences due to quarantine, isolation or illness.