Update on emergency remote instruction shifts (4/5/2020)

As we start into week 3 (!) of emergency remote instruction, I’m trying to take stock and tweak what we’re doing to both continue to deliver class content as effectively as possible while not placing undue burdens on anyone. We’re all under strange pressure and constraints, and I want to give the opportunity to finish your classes without that adding to the stressors we’re all feeling.

So, here are a few adjustments and clarifications for our online course-related activities:

1. ZOOM PASSWORD: Although we haven’t had an issue, others have, so I’m going to put a password on the Zoom sessions. You already needed a password for the online notes; so I’ll just extend that password to be the password you also will need to enter the Zoom classroom.

2. REGULAR ZOOM MEETINGS: Either or both of Jeff or I will continue to show up on Zoom each MWF at 12:35pm for any questions/discussion. Attending these sessions is not required or graded or even especially expected. They’re there as a optional and voluntary question and discussion section for those who’d like that. We’re of course happy to see people show, but it’s entirely up to you when and whether you show up for these.

3. SCORING AND GRADING: The scoring and grading for the course is as it was: 5 exams will be given, your 4 best exams each count for 20% of your course grade; the other 20% comes from your clicker/pop-quiz grades. The 3-times-a-week pop quizzes (after each recorded lecture) are scored just like a day of clicker activity: 2 points for doing that day’s quizzes, plus 1 for each correct quiz question. Instead of dropping your 5 lowest clicker/pop-quiz scores, I’ll drop your 7 lowest, hopefully compensating for any glitchiness in the switch-over to online quizzes.

5. POSTING GRADES: I will post current grades on the web page (not on Blackboard) as soon as we can, after exam 3 is graded. These will be “walkaway” grades — the grades you’d get if you walked away and did nothing more in the course. I expect most of you will continue to take exams and do quizzes, and so your walkaway grade after exam 3 is NOT an estimate of your final grade, but JUST what grade you’ve earned on work already completed even if you completed no more work at all.

5. S/U GRADING OPTION: Remember, you may take as many classes as you want S/U this semester. Whether you do is up to you; the UA rule is that a grade of C or better becomes an S and you get the course credit; and a grade of C- or worse becomes a U and you don’t get course credit; neither S nor U affects your overall GPA. You have until May 1st to convert to S/U grading via MyUAlbany if that’s what you want. I’m guessing a good number of you will do that, but please keep in mind that if you do, a C- or lower won’t get you the 3 credits for the course.

6. COURSE WORKLOAD: At its core, the course is still 3 lectures a week that you’re expected to listen to; a couple of quiz questions about each of the lectures; a little opportunity for questions and discussions; and the same fundamental grading structure. It’s my hope that by keeping that as stable and constant as possible, I can help you get the most consistent educational experience available under these bizarre circumstances.

OK, that’s it for now. Stay safe.