This fall, Boise State plans to resume as many lower-density, face-to-face courses this fall as is safely possible, paired with robust online instructional capabilities to be maximally responsive to student, faculty and staff needs and safety requirements.
With that in mind, university leadership have asked the Center for Teaching and Learning and the eCampus Center to create the Flexible Teaching for Student Success Initiative. Their collaboration will provide a series of summer institutes, workshops and drop-in consultations for faculty to advance their skill and comfort level in the promotion of student learning in the online environment.
This will help all faculty to be as prepared and flexible as possible for a number of scenarios for fall semester: a hybrid semester, an interrupted semester or a totally remote semester. The role of Academic Affairs will be to help faculty leverage their expertise and dedication to prepare high-quality, highly flexible course options for whatever scenario materializes this fall.
Details about program options, application and timeline are found on the Flexible Teaching for Student Success Initiative website. In brief, cohorts of departmental faculty or individual faculty may choose between:
Tier 1: Institutes: three-week asynchronous facilitated institute, 36 hours ($1,000 stipend available, 300 spots available). These institutes will be offered four times during the summer, beginning June 1.
Tier 2: Workshops: menu of one-week online workshops, three hours each (choose three workshops with targeted deliverables for a $250 stipend, 300 spots available). These workshops, with topics like “Creating courses that consider the needs of all students,” will be offered on a rotating weekly schedule throughout the summer. Each workshop will be offered three times.
Tier 3: Web Resources: independent access to online resources and flexible drop-in office hours (no stipend, unlimited capacity). Help sessions, with topics like “accessibility” and “effective assignments,” will begin the week of June 8.
Enhancing the quality of all courses is imperative to the university’s mission, and enrollment and retention of students, in a year when forecasts predict a 15-20 percent drop in matriculation across higher education. Strengthened online and adaptive capacity also will position Boise State to better meet the needs of those who may prefer online or flexible learning after pandemic conditions subside.
The Boise State Plan for Reintegration communication of April 30 reinforces the need for flexible plans for the fall semester. The goal “to resume as many face-to-face courses this fall” was explicitly paired with the “uncertainty of the coming months” that would “require faculty and staff to be prepared for the possibility of disruption to the fall semester.” The university’s ability to attract, serve and retain students this coming year might well be the most important test the institution will face this decade; faculty have tremendous power to advance the wellbeing of students and the success of Boise State at this critical time.
This is a high-stakes request of faculty. University leadership is mindful of the extra time and emotional investment faculty and staff have made this spring, and that faculty will need time and space for individual scholarly agenda and important personal recovery, with space to grieve what was lost this spring.
This is an unprecedented moment with significant, possibly dire, implications for universities that lack entities like Boise State’s first-rate CTL and eCampus Center or that expect higher education to pull through unscathed and unchanged in the years ahead. The combined virtues of these institutional resources, and dedicated faculty and staff, give Boise State the opportunity to be national leaders with a truly innovative approach to teaching and learning.