Until further notice, Waterloo employees are instructed to work from home. People in roles that leaders deem essential to the ongoing and safe operation of our campus should report to work.
If a role is essential to the continuing operation of the University people should report to work and follow public health guidance for social distancing and cleaning protocols.
Please keep in contact with your Manager.
- MME is holding a drop-in coffee chat for anyone in the department who would like to “drop-in” via WebEx and connect with each other. This is a great way to ensure social distance does not become social isolation. Renate Donnovan is working on creating something like this for ECE. More info to follow.
- Working from home can translate to becoming even more sedentary. The student Wellness Reps and Renate have created a “Keep Moving” Facebook-based challenge. The goal is to increase connection during this time as well as keep folks moving. Exercise boots the immune system! We will be posting new work-out videos every couple of days and encouraging each other. Please join us!
Additional mental health and wellness resources for staff and faculty:
- Renate is available for wellness chats if you need to talk, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mindshift App – for reducing anxiety and stress
- Coronavirus Sanity Guide (FREE) – from Ten Percent Happier
- Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education – site on wellbeing and reducing coronavirus anxiety
- My Workplace Health – site on how to reduce Coronavirus related anxiety in the workplace
- Workplace strategies for Mental Health – Canada Life
- UWaterloo Employee Assistance Program
There are several articles on how to navigate COVID-19 that might be helpful:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted Manage Anxiety & Stress related to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Five Mental Health Tips Amid COVID-19 Concerns from the Canadian Mental Health Association
- How to prevent loneliness in a time of social distancing by Scientific American
Hiring co-op students
As you are aware, many of our students had their co-op jobs cancelled for next term. We can't hire them all but it would help if you would consider hiring a co-op student for the summer. Of course they would have to do the work remotely. Here are directions on how to post a job: https://uwaterloo.ca/hire/post-a-job.
Tools for Delivering Classes Online
Background information and guides you can download and print:
Links to other resources:
All in-person exams are cancelled and may be replaced with alternative assessments.
Using LEARN to administer exams:
The advantage of using LEARN is that you can upload a question bank, and different students receive a different group of questions--making it more challenging for them to do the test together.
Take home exams can be offered in a few ways. You can offer a timed test with a specific start and end time and use the randomization function in LEARN. You can provide the exam at the end of classes and give the students until the date of the exam to submit to the Dropbox--similar to an assignment. You could even have a few different versions of the assignment and randomize which students receive which version. Or, depending on how exams are spaced, all the instructors could release the exam the day before the current exam date and give the students 24 hrs to complete it--and submit via Dropbox. The length of the exam would vary depending on the approach/outcomes. You will want your questions to be higher order questions as per Bloom's Taxonomy.
Using Crowdmark to administer exams:
Instructors may be wondering about using Crowdmark for non-proctored exams/assignments. For those who have never used the assigned assessment feature in Crowdmark, Crowdmark has created a step-by-step video guide.
It would be a great idea for first time users to create a mock assignment and send out to the students in advance of any online exam so that students are familiar with the process of uploading their scanned solutions to Crowdmark (and instructors/TAs are familiar with the differences with administered assessments).
If you have questions, contact your UW local Crowdmark support at email@example.com.
Another option is a summative assignment that would replace the exam. The assignment should be something like a "case study" or the equivalent type of problem they could complete in a couple of hours. This could be released and the students given 24 hours to complete it. It would be best if there was no overlap with other courses and a short break between each released exam. The problem, or case, would require them to understand and adapt content from the course in order to complete it. Again, aiming for the higher order Bloom's functions (applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating). Maybe something like: analyze this problem and create a solution. You will have to keep in mind the level of the problem be relevant to their academic level and test material covered by their readings or course lectures.
Dealing with time zones: Earlier it was thought that not many students would be in very different time zones, but it looks like many will be. If at all possible, please try to accommodate such students in any on-line testing. Consider allowing a 12-hour window to write the exam. In the worst case, if accommodation isn't possible, and the student refuses to write a 2am exam, please use an INC grade instead of a DNW grade.
Exam timing: Please remember students have multiple exams (or replacements for exams). You cannot assume everyone in your class is available during a specific 4 hour slot, for example. Many students have left Ontario as well, so we also have to think of time zones. Finally, there are AccessAbility students to accommodate. If you need to have a narrow-window test, I recommend contacting your students to find out if any of them will have a problem with that timing. Providing a wider window, or more than one offering, are also good approaches.
There are many other options. The best option depends on the type of material covered in the course and the desired outcomes.
Looking for on-line exam advice, suggestions for timing on take-home exams or summative assignments – contact Renate Donnovan.
Branding tools for online learning and virtual meetings
Images for LEARN, Teams and WebEx – to create a more consistent Waterloo-focused experience giving you the chance to download image banners featuring popular campus spaces and faculty colours to use as backgrounds or banners in LEARN. Many of you will be able to use these banners as custom backgrounds for video conferences. We’ll work with IST make these backgrounds available as standard in Microsoft Teams and share instructions on how to use them as soon as the tool allows
Courseware development support – we’ve partnered with the team behind the Keep Learning site to share existing resources and downloads on our Brand site that includes PowerPoint templates, Word doc templates, icons and more. Using these branded templates is another way you can help create a sense of Waterloo even while we are working and learning remotely.
Updates and Tips on W2020 Teaching
- When must my contingency plans be in place? You have until Wed March 18 to get your plans in place. Don't forget to bounce them off the class and make a "good faith" attempt to incorporate any significant concerns that might arise. I found my class was very understanding and reasonable when I presented my plans to them.
- When are grades due this term? All grades should be submitted on Quest by May 1. The absolute deadline (no exceptions since AP cycle starts) is May 3.
- What about students who leave Waterloo to go to their home countries but then don't have reliable internet connections? I'm aware of one or two cases like this already. I encourage instructors to be compassionate and use INC grades, or some alternative method of getting a numeric grade, instead of something severe like DNW.
- Some ideas to replace in-person final exams: I've been asked to share what others are doing. This is just a partial list of options, in no particular order:
- Get rid of the exam entirely: Replace the final exam with assignments or a project.
- Design an on-line exam: One way to use this is to use the "quizzes" feature in LEARN. You can create a pool of questions and have LEARN randomly select questions for each student (see https://uwaterloo.ca/learn-help/instructors/quizzes#Creating%20Random%20Sections%20in%20Quizzes). I'm planning to use this approach, and to run the exam during the 2.5 hour slot reserved for my course. Tip 1: At least on windows machines, you can use the "snipping tool" (or "screen clipping" tool in Word) to cut and paste exam questions directly into the LEARN quiz question boxes, making it easy to incorporate any graphics or math into your questions. Tip 2: To ensure the technology works for everyone, consider running a small (1 question) quiz a day or two prior to the exam which students can try out. Tip 3: Make the exam shorter than 2.5 hours so that students have some buffer when trying to log in at the start of the exam.
- Design a take-home exam: Some profs are designing longer (say 4 hours) exams that students can do during any 24 or 48 hour period. It's important to give them a large window to write the exam since you can't guarantee students are available in any particular time interval except the 2.5 hours reserved for your course in the exam period.
- For a small class, do individual oral exams: There are lots of tools (e.g., zoom) where face-to-face oral exams can be done virtually. Students can sign up for a time slot. Ideally you should record the videos in case a student files a reassessment challenge later on.
- What about academic integrity during on-line final exams? There is no fireproof method of ensuring students don't cheat. You could ask students to sign (digitally) that they following the exam rules. You could ask them to scan in their watcards. You could ask them to send an image of themselves writing the exam. But all of these methods are easily defeated. There are companies out there that you can pay to digitally "proctor" your exam, but we looked into that and were not persuaded (plus it costs a bundle). I'm just going to rely on the integrity of students and trust that my randomization of questions from a big pool will be a big hurdle.
- What about the S2020 term? The university is currently deciding on how S2020 will progress (e.g., will it be an on-line term?). Hopefully the final decision will be made within the week or early next week at the latest.
- S2020 term: The university should soon announce what is happening next term, to help instructors, staff, and students prepare. This is an important decision.
Updates on AccessAbility, time zones, supp exams and online teaching technology - as of March 18, 2020
- AccessAbility: The attached memo from David DeVidi and Jeff Cassello, issued March 17, addresses many issues that are not new. The main new item concerns AccessAbility (see the memo for details):
- AccessAbility is no longer offering in-person exams this term.
- Instructors with any AccessAbility students can review their students' accommodations. Extra time for exams if likely the only one of interest.
- Instructors should add the appropriate time to their exams. The memo suggests an easier solution is to give everyone extra time, but watch out for time conflicts during the exam period.
- Online teaching technology: The CTE webpage now gives a much more comprehensive listing of technologies. See https://uwaterloo.ca/keep-learning/ and specifically the link https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-tips/by-category/151
- Dealing with time zones: Earlier it was thought that not many students would be in very different time zones, but it looks like many will be. If at all possible, please try to accommodate such students in any on-line testing. Consider allowing a 12-hour window to write the exam. In the worst case, if accommodation isn't possible, and the student refuses to write a 2am exam, please use an INC grade instead of a DNW grade.
- Supp exams: I've been getting many emails about students who are entitled to write supp exams this term. If the on-line version of the course has an exam, and the student is fine writing it, I think everything proceeds as usual. If the on-line version of the course does not include an exam, then there can be no supp exam, and the program should automatically extend the supp deadline appropriately. If the student doesn't want to write the on-line version of the exam, I think it's also reasonable to extend the supp exam appropriately. If the student is in 4B, and the course doesn't have a final exam, I encourage programs to try to find an instructor who can create a remote exam (maybe orally) for the student. I may at some point hear more about how to handle supps from higher
- Off-campus meetings with students: These are not allowed. Apparently some instructor on campus tried to get around the "no in-person classes" rule by telling students to meet at their house! Ontario is in a state of emergency, and in-person contact should be minimized.
EngLab - Web based solution making computer lab workstations easily accessible to students remotely
Information for Researchers
NSERC program information in relation to COVID‑19
CIHR COVID-19 information page
Online COVID-19 "match-making" platform for Canada/EU research collaboration
Potentially another tool Canada could use to collaborate faster with EU researchers: https://network.crowdhelix.com/covid-19
Earlier today, UK-based open innovation network Crowdhelix, in partnership with Brussels-based media company Science|Business, has launched a free online match-making service to help COVID-19 researchers find one another across the globe, check out funding opportunities, and get to work tackling the virus faster.
At https://network.crowdhelix.com/covid-19, is a simple online tool to help COVID-19 researchers connect, whatever their country or specialty. This new network is advised by Dr. Björn Kull, Head of Grants Office at Karolinska Institutet, the Stockholm medical university. It is also supported by leading Belgian university KU Leuven.
How it works:
With the Crowdhelix service, researchers can click through to a special COVID-19 section of its custom-built Open Innovation platform. There, they can profile themselves, their teams, and their organisations, and post opportunities to collaborate. An intelligent recommender system then matches these opportunities with the most suitable prospective collaborators, using natural language processing and machine-learning.
COGNIT.CA - Researching while 'social distancing'
In a partnership between various federal agencies, a search engine for research expertise, at COGNIT.CA has been created:
Although not yet finalized, in this time of crisis, it was deemed useful to advance the release of COGNIT.CA. COGNIT.CA is expected to be particularly useful, not only to COVID-19 researchers but to the entire research community, now engaged in ‘social distancing’ research.
Anyone can now access the ‘public beta’ version of COGNIT.CA by simply visiting: https://cognit.ca .
As with any software, COGNIT.CA is not bug- or error-free. Users are encouraged to report any bugs or errors using the Feedback button that appears on the right-hand side of the screen. The Feedback button takes a screenshot of the COGNIT.ca window and allows you to annotate the window. That information is then transmitted to the developers for action.
COGNIT.CA currently makes use of the awards databases of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), as well as the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Research Facilities Navigator. In addition, COGNIT.CA contains a catalogue of licensing opportunities and patents to allow users to identify the intellectual property filed by Canadian researchers and institutions.
COGNIT.CA provides access to more that 200,000 federally funded research projects, more than 100,000 pieces of intellectual property, 120,000 researchers and 10,000 businesses and not-for-profit collaborators. In addition, COGNIT.CA provides direct access to the more than 700 CFI-funded research facilities available on CFI’s Navigator website. COGNIT.CA will be of special interest to businesses, governments, not-for-profit organizations and media who need access to world-class Canadian expertise.
COGNIT.CA is a partnership between the U15, Universities Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Mitacs and the Tri-agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC).