Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

FAQs, Policies and Guidance

We have compiled information related to various questions and changes that emerged over the past few months. We hope you will find a response to your question(s) here. If not, please contact us at: eberly-assist@andrew.cmu.edu.

How have students been prepared for remote learning?

CMU’s Student Academic Success Center has created resources for students on online learning, and advisors from across disciplines have been in touch with students to help them prepare for and adjust to new modes of instruction. In addition, Computing Services has published technology-related information at https://www.cmu.edu/computing/support/remote-students.html. Note that this includes links to this page: Attend a Zoom Hosted Class.

How do I know if my students will be able to attend my live class sessions and engage in remote learning?

Students’ technology readiness and timezones are being collected via surveys administered in SIO. CMU is working to make that information available to instructors and advisors (e.g., via S3 and the roster), starting in late July.

Will academic support services be available remotely for students?

Yes, the Student Success Center has transitioned its services to support students remotely. See the Student Success website and please share this with your students.

How do I support my students with accommodations?

All accommodations that a student received for in-person classes will carry over to hybrid and remote modes of instruction. If you are unsure about how to implement a particular accommodation, please first discuss it with the student.  Please reach out to Disability Resources at access@andrew.cmu.edu if you and the student are not able to come up with a solution. Also note that Disability Resources will be glad to work with students and faculty in cases where the faculty member intends to use a lockdown browser, as these tools are often incompatible with assistive technologies.

If my students have an accommodation for extra time on tests, what do I do for remote/online, timed tests?

If you are giving a remote/online, timed test and you have a student who receives additional time on exams as an accommodation, you will need to enter their additional time allotment into Canvas or whatever exam administration platform you are using. Please email canvas-help@andrew.cmu.edu if you are unsure of how to adjust an individual student’s time in Canvas. To review at a glance how much time your student(s) with testing accommodations each receive, please log into our instructor portal at https://rainier.accessiblelearning.com/cmu/instructor.  

What if my remote students do not have essential course materials with them (at home)?

Some students may not have all ther books or other materials they need. If you would like to make a text or other media available to students, please contact University Libraries at lib-textbookhelp@lists.andrew.cmu.edu for assistance and then remember to post these materials on Canvas to appropriately restrict access to students in your course.

(Note: If you are concerned about copyright issues, linked here is a document prepared by a number of university research librarians. Our legal counsel has reviewed and is generally comfortable with it; however, if you have specific concerns or questions, please be in touch directly with OGC.)

If your remote students need other equipment or materials for their course (e.g., lab kit or studio materials), CMU has prepared this set of guidance and contact information to help departments determine what can be shipped, where, and how.

What do I do if students are sick and cannot participate?

Try to be flexible about attendance and course schedules/deadlines as much as you can. Do not ask for doctor’s notes in order to excuse absences or approve  extensions. Sick students may be treated remotely unless they are seriously ill, to avoid crowding clinics and potentially infecting others.

How and when should I hold office hours within the hybrid education model?

Office hours still play an important role for students to ask questions individually and/or to receive help in small groups. Instructors and TAs are encouraged to hold office hours with the following adjustments for remote/hybrid education:

  1. Conduct office hours via Zoom. (If there is a specific need/reason for in-person office hours, consider using outdoor spaces, follow campus minimum requirements, and revert to Zoom hours as much as possible.)
  2. Arrange the time slots of your office hours to address students in different time zones. (Note: students’ time zones should be indicated in your course roster.) 
  3. To manage multiple students seeking office hours help at the same time, consider alternatives to Zoom’s waiting room – which does not work well when the number of students or wait time grows. One option is to take a group-based approach (if appropriate to your course) where students are invited to share (e.g., via Chat) the topic, concept, or problem # where they need help. Then you can go through those topics in succession for the full group  (perhaps starting with the most commonly asked). Another option is to allow students to sign up for short (10-15 minute slots) during your office hours. Note: the Canvas Calendar has a scheduler built into it. After you have created appointments, your students can sign up.  You can set up a consistent Zoom link for all of your office hour appointments by using your personal meeting ID in Zoom and setting its features to align with what you want for office hours, e.g., enabling the waiting room function so students don’t overlap from one “appointment” to the next.

What if I have a remote student (e.g., learning from another country) who is having trouble accessing course content?

The top strategies for addressing this are (1) suggest that the student connect via Virtual Andrew and/or (2) post the affected course resources on your Canvas site or in Box. As indicated on this Computing Services webpage other strategies are possible, including directing your student to contact it-help@cmu.edu. 


 

What technologies should I use for my course?

A default toolkit has been identified and is recommended for use with your students so that they have a single point of entry for their classes and a consistent experience (and not have to manage too many tools). This includes:
  • Canvas as the course portal/hub. Instructors can request a Canvas course at: https://www.cmu.edu/canvas/
  • Zoom for synchronous class sessions. Instructors can set up Zoom class sessions directly via Canvas-Zoom integration -- again, providing students with a one-stop shop for both asynchronous and synchronous course-related interactions.
  • Google Apps for Ed for collaboration (includes Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Jamboard, Calendar, and more. It does not include other google apps). If you see a Google app you'd like to use and want to make sure it is among the list of vetted tools, please contact us at eberly-assist@andrew.cmu.edu.
  • Other tools are currently being vetted for use. Please contact us at eberly-assist@andrew.cmu.edu for more information about additional tools.

Who can help if I’m having trouble with Zoom or Canvas?

Both of these tools require CMU authentication. Please contact Computing Services for help with accounts and/or access to services at: it-help@andrew.cmu.edu or 412-268-4357.

What should I do about Zoom redundancy/backup plans?

Consider how you might adjust your approach if bandwidth becomes an issue or other technical issues arise. For example,

  • as an in-the-moment mitigation strategy, you could turn off your and students’ video and ask students to use Zoom's chat functionality instead of audio.
  • as a planned/designed backup or alternate instructional strategy, consider what asynchronous activities students could complete in lieu of live class sessions (for ideas for both synchronous and asynchronous concrete strategies that CMU faculty and Eberly Center colleagues have crowdsourced).

Why is Zoom not allowing more than 40-minute meetings (or other technical Zoom problems)?

You are likely logged into Zoom with a personal Zoom account. To take advantage of features like recording and unlimited meeting time, follow the steps below to log in as a member of Carnegie Mellon University:

  1. Log out of any other Zoom accounts.
  2. Log into Zoom using cmu.zoom.us or via the Zoom app and choose the SSO option.
  3. Enter your Andrew UserID and password on the Web Login page.
    Follow these instructions from Computing Services to be sure you are logging on correctly. For further Zoom technical support, contact Computing Services at it-help@andrew.cmu.edu or calling 412-268-4357. For support using Zoom effectively in your teaching, contact eberly-assist@andrew.cmu.edu.

What if I need to hand-write notes or hand-annotate my slides during a remote class session (or for recording an instructional video)?

These resources describe a hardware set-up that only requires a computer, smartphone, and a phone-holding “arm” to create a make-shift document camera that you can tie into your Zoom session. If you think you need something different than this personal technology set up for annotating instructional materials, please contact us at eberly-assist@andrew.cmu.edu and we will work with you to align a solution that fits your needs.



 

Q: What A/V is in my classroom?

A: The vast majority of classrooms being used this fall will have the standard A/V set-up (conference camera and room microphone) shown here. Exceptions to this standard set-up include rooms with native video-conferencing equipment (see list here) and some specialized spaces (such as studios and labs; contact it-help@ cmu.edu or your unit/college IT professional to confirm).

Q: With so many devices in use during a class session, how do I ensure that there aren’t feedback issues?

A: Create a technology set-up routine that you and your students do at the beginning of each class period.

  • Set up your Zoom class session so that everyone is muted upon entry.
  • Remind your students to keep their Zoom audio muted until called upon. 
  • When setting up your devices for teaching, if you are using two devices (e.g., an additional iPad to annotate slides), remember to join the Zoom session with audio OFF for one of the devices. And turn the video on for screen sharing.

See these best practices for using hybrid technology from Computing Services. 

Q: What if I have a technology problem in my classroom this fall?

A: There will be real-time IT support when classes are running, thanks to efforts of Computing Services in partnership with local IT professionals. Each classroom should have a contact number at/near the lectern. If in doubt, call 412-268-4357 (HELP) to be routed appropriately.

Q: I understand that remote students will be able to hear me via Zoom and the room microphone, but what about students in the room (especially because I’ll be wearing a facial covering)?

A: In many rooms Computing Services has tested, the instructor’s voice – even when wearing a mask – has been heard by (simulated) students in the back of the room. In larger classrooms where this is not the case, Computing Services is working on voice-reinforcement strategies.

Q: What if a student enters the classroom without a facial covering?

A: Students need to sign a “A Tartan’s Responsibility” when they return to campus, which includes complying with particular behaviors such as wearing facial coverings. More details will be forthcoming on this question (e.g., suggested language is being prepared for you to include in your syllabus – check back soon!), but in the meantime, here is the suggested approach: (1) Check whether the student has accommodations (e.g., health or other issues) related to wearing a facial covering. (2) If not, please ask the student to go to a nearby distribution location to get a facial covering to wear before returning to class. (3) If/when the student returns with a mask, thank them for their cooperation; if they do not, you may ask them to please leave the classroom for the health/safety of all. (4) As a last resort, you may dismiss the entire class and either cancel that class session, assign asynchronous classwork instead, or conduct that day’s class remotely.

Q: Will instructors have access to clear facial coverings for use during teaching?

A: Yes, CMU has purchased clear facial coverings, and they have been distributed to colleges/departments. Please contact your unit head or drbc@andrew.cmu.edu on how to access these.

Q: What will my in-person students need to bring to class in order to connect to the classroom technology?

A: This depends in part on what kind of interactions you plan for your course, but in general, it is helpful for students to have a device (e.g., laptop or smartphone) with internet capabilities and a set of headsets with microphone. See the Computing Services Tech Quick Start Checklist).

Q: How can I learn more about how to use the technology in my classroom?

A: There will be a Zoom session for faculty in each of CMU’s Schools/Colleges during the period of August 13 - 24. (You should receive an invitation to this session for your college around August 10-12, and we anticipate the sessions will be recorded.) After attending/viewing this session, there will be opportunities for instructors who wish to visit campus to see a classroom in person.

Q: What if I have a concern related to cleaning or wish to request something related to classroom cleaning

A: Note that classrooms are being cleaned multiple times per day and that disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer stations are distributed to classrooms. Instructors should use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes at the lectern (as relevant, see signage within the room), and students should use disinfectant wipes to clean high-touch surfaces (e.g., chairs’ tablet arm). Cleaning requests should be directed to fixit@andrew.cmu.edu.

Q: I’m concerned about sharing microphones… What is the room microphone set-up?

A: The room microphone being installed as part of the standard A/V set-up is a tabletop microphone that in most cases will be situated on the lectern. Instructors will not need to contact the microphone for it to pick up their voice.

If you have questions about hybrid classroom teaching not addressed above, please see the corresponding section of our FAQs page. Questions addressed include: training and support related to classroom technology, expectations for physical distancing and wearing masks, and cleaning of the technology and spaces.

If your question is not listed, please email it to eberly-assist@andrew.cmu.edu and we will work to get an answer. 

May I hold my class at a time different than its scheduled time?

Official CMU policy is that live class sessions are to be held at their scheduled times. The university does recognize, however, that some (or perhaps many) students may be connecting from time zones that make the regular class times difficult. Instructors should understand that students in such situations may not be able to participate in class in real time, so whenever feasible, instructors should try to accommodate these students, for instance by making recorded class sessions and notes available to them and by scheduling office hours to account for these variations. 

In administering an exam, how can I best address students in different time zones?

There are several options to consider that may be differentially appropriate to each course context. (1) Administer a timed exam (as you ordinarily would) but with a flexible start time, so students in different time zones can choose to start within a given window. (Note: Canvas has settings to enable this.) (2) Administer your exam at two different times, based on students course schedules/availability and time zones (time zones are now included in the course roster). Note: when implementing this strategy, it may be advisable to create two different forms of your exam. (3) Consider alternative assessment formats, such as mastery exams or a task/project that students can complete and submit by a deadline. See this page for additional information on these 3 options and more.

Are students expected to attend class sessions synchronously, if they are in a distant time zone?

The default expectation is that students will attend classes synchronously unless otherwise specified by the instructor. However, we encourage instructors to be as flexible as they can with students in distant time zones. For example, students may participate in asynchronous learning activities. Some instructors who provide asynchronous activities are requiring some portion of synchronous class attendance (e.g., once per week) and the rest of the time students can participate asynchronously. Similarly, when asynchronous activities are possible, some instructors are scheduling one or more weekly office hours in a time that is designed to work well for students in distant time zones and then assigning those students to attend one of these office hours in lieu of some of the synchronous class attendance. Finally, in courses with multiple sections, students in distant time zones are being assigned to sections with more convenient times. Note: in making these plans for your specific class, please refer to the time zone information that is now available in S3 in your course roster. If students continue to have difficulty managing required synchronous attendance because of their time zone, it is a good idea to encourage them to discuss the matter with their advisor, so that further alternatives can be explored.

     

    What privacy protections are in place (for me and my students) when we conduct class sessions via Zoom?

    CMU has an enterprise license agreement with Zoom, and Computing Services manages that license. Computing Services has prepared information here on the safeguards that are in place to protect Zoom data while still allowing appropriate system administrators to ensure reliability of the service. 

    May I, should I record my live class sessions?

    Instructors are encouraged to provide asynchronous access to comprehensive course materials used during synchronous class sessions for all students to refer to as a resource remotely. This is especially important for students who are unable to attend a class session in real time. This may include class recordings and/or other material used/presented/provided during the live class synchronous session.

    Recordings of class sessions are covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and must NOT be shared with any third-party audience (those not registered or associated with the course-section). If you are recording such class sessions,
    follow these strict guidelines:

    • Provide advance written notice to students that you intend to audio/video record course sessions. Notice may be provided via a posting within Canvas, via email to all students in the course or by including notice of recording in an updated course syllabus. If recording will occur on a regular basis it is sufficient to provide written notice one time.
    • When you record a live class session, orally remind students that you are recording it and that the purpose of the recording is so students in the course (and only students in the course) can watch or re-watch past class sessions. This oral notice should be captured on the audio recording and it should be repeated at the beginning of each recorded session. Sample oral reminder: “As a reminder, this session will be audio/video recorded for educational use by other students in this course.”
    • After Zoom creates a link to your class recording, share it only with students in your class. You can do this via your Canvas course (see here if you are using Zoom from within Canvas). Do NOT share the class recording/link via any publicly accessible site.
    • Remind students that the recording is for their use only and not to be shared.
    • Please be aware of the needs of any students in your course with hearing or vision impairments who may have difficulty accessing audio/video recordings. Contact the Office of Disability Resources with any questions or for assistance in making audio/video content accessible to individuals with disabilities (e.g., adding subtitles, compatibility with screen-reader technology, etc.).
    • If access to the recordings is limited to only students enrolled in the class, FERPA does not limit or prevent their use and does not require obtaining a written consent. This allows instructors to create access for students in the class to watch or re-watch past class sessions.

    What should I do if a student expresses concern about classes being recorded?

    Take this as an opportunity to remind all students that class recordings are for their use only and not to be shared – by either the instructor or students. If your class recordings include students participating (e.g., asking/answering questions), as they naturally will, be sure that you are only posting class recordings in areas accessible to ONLY those registered for the course and that require CMU authentication (e.g., via Canvas; NOT via a publicly accessible site).

    What should I do if a student expresses concern about sharing video of themselves during class?

    The answer to this question is highly dependent on the format of the course and the specific needs of the particular class session. Instructors are advised to consider the value of students sharing their video relative to the course learning objectives. If students sharing video is important to achieving course learning objectives, instructors should articulate their rationale to students (including the case of creating a video-proctored environment for exams). At the same time, we should all be as flexible as possible in accommodating students’ personal situations and comfort levels with sharing video.

    What if I want to prohibit my students from making/sharing their own recordings of class sessions?

    Instructors who wish to prohibit students making recordings of class sessions may find some guiding questions and sample language (e.g., to be included in your syllabus) here.

     

    I’m teaching an in-person-plus-remote (IPR) course, so should my exams be IPR as well or remote only?

    Instructors of IPR courses are encouraged to conduct their exams fully remotely. This reduces concerns around equity of exam administration and eliminates any issues related to students coming to the exam room w/o a facial covering. However, it is at IPR instructors’ discretion whether they choose to conduct their exams IPR (i.e., in-person students complete the exam in-person). In that case, note that (a) faculty may refuse entry to a student without a facial covering, choose to give that student a 0 for the exam, etc and (b) faculty should communicate to students any such contingencies in advance, e.g., in their syllabus and, additionally with a reminder about exam expectations just before exam day.

    In administering an exam, how can I best address students in different time zones?

    There are several options to consider that may be differentially appropriate to each course context. (1) Administer a timed exam (as you ordinarily would) but with a flexible start time, so students in different time zones can choose to start within a given window. (Note: Canvas has settings to enable this.) (2) Administer your exam at two different times, based on students course schedules/availability and time zones (time zones are now included in the course roster). Note: when implementing this strategy, it may be advisable to create two different forms of your exam. (3) Consider alternative assessment formats, such as mastery exams or a task/project that students can complete and submit by a deadline. See this page for additional information on these 3 options and more.

    To complete my exam, students need a particular technology set-up (e.g., laptop, webcam, etc). What do I do if students do not have the adequate technology?

    First, it is best to alert students to these needs as early as possible (e.g., in your syllabus, see here, or beginning of the semester) and invite them to inform you if there is a gap in their set-up. For students who need financial assistance, please direct them to their HUB liaison. It may also be useful to consider alternate modes of exam administration that do not require the full tech set-up.

    What should I do if students encounter a technology problem during a remote exam?

    To reduce the incidence of technology problems, it is ideal to help students prepare in advance for any technology problems that may arise in an exam. Many faculty are conducting a "trial run" before their first exam (i.e., where students actually answer a few questions in the same format of the online exam), to reveal any gaps in students' set-up when there is still time to adjust. In addition, many faculty are building in 5-10 minutes into their exam time for students to scan/upload their work (if this is applicable) and/or to help accommodate for any technology delays students may experience during the exam. In terms of addressing a technology problem when it arises, faculty are encouraged to be as flexible as they reasonably can and to explain to students the course's pre-defined back-up plan in advance (so students know what to expect/do after a technology glitch). Here are some back-up strategies faculty are employing: Some faculty are asking students to document their technology glitch and then allowing them to submit the exam slightly late. Faculty who have multiple sections/time slots for an exam are telling students with a technology problem to take the exam in the "next available" time slot. (In those cases, faculty are often creating different forms of the exam for each time slot to deter cheating.) In other cases, faculty are providing an alternate exam (different questions answered in a different mode, e.g., an oral exam with fewer but different questions). For ideas on alternate exam formats for remote assessment, see here.

    How do I protect the IP contained in my course materials when posting online?

    Per CMU’s Intellectual Property Policy,  in most cases faculty members retain all IP rights to the instructional materials they create for their courses (e.g., instructional videos, class notes, lectures). One step to protect any materials you own is to include a notice that you are the copyright holder of your instructional materials. For your slides and other documents, consider adding this text (e.g., in the footer): 

    ©  [year] [Faculty member name] All rights reserved.
    Example:  © 2020 Charles Xavier. All rights reserved. 

    Note: Do not include CMU copyright on any materials unless Carnegie Mellon owns the materials per CMU’s Intellectual Property Policy (as an example, the materials were developed under a sponsored project and CMU owns them under 3-1 of the IP Policy).

    Another step to protect recordings of your course sessions is to include the following statement in your course syllabus, Canvas site, or other locations where students may be downloading your materials: "Recordings of course sessions are provided solely for educational use by students enrolled in the course and may not be distributed to any other person or posted on the internet without the express written permission of the course instructor.”

    How can the university assist in IP enforcement?

    For any instructional materials that belong to the individual faculty members (i.e., where CMU does not own the materials), faculty members are individually responsible for enforcing any infringement. CMU does not have any standing for IP enforcement in those cases. However, CMU’s Office of General Counsel will provide template text to faculty members upon request that they can use to send to sites that are infringing. In many cases, the more straightforward approach is for the faculty member to complete the relevant online copyright infringement form available at the site.  For example, the copyright infringement form for Youtube is available at https://www.youtube.com/copyright_complaint_form.  If you are aware of any infringement for materials you believe that CMU owns under the IP policy, please contact CMU’s Office of General Counsel.

    What if I want to prohibit my students from making/sharing their own recordings of class sessions?

    Instructors who wish to prohibit students making recordings of class sessions may find some guiding questions and sample language (e.g., to be included in your syllabus) here.


    Many thanks to the CMU’s Academic Preparations Dept/School Liaisons, School of Computer Science, Dietrich College Computing, and the Department of Statistics & Data Science for great contributions to this document.