Important Updates to On-Campus Learning A message from Assistant Provost, Dr. Jonas Prida | July 17, 2020
Dear Point Park Students,
On behalf of the Provost, Dr. John Pearson, I want to provide you with some important updates regarding learning modalities for the Fall term, Grade Policy, and student course schedules.
First, thank you for your patience with all of the changes to your education. I doubt that any of you thought that you would be working on a degree during the middle of a pandemic. I certainly never thought I would be helping you through one. We are working as hard as we can, under the ever-changing circumstances, to help all students stay on track with their educational goals.
Learning Modalities for Fall 2020
I want to briefly explain the variety of course formats that you will encounter this semester. Each format will run slightly differently; your faculty members are the experts in the class and will change small parts of it as they see fit. But in general, here is the breakdown of the types of courses you will take. The University is using the term Hyflex—as in a highly flexible format—as the larger category that all of these different teaching styles fall into.
For you visual learners, this graphic should help:
Before you say, “hey, Hyflex is in there twice,” let me explain. Hyflex is both a type of class and a big idea about how we are going to help you learn. It is kind of like an “all dogs are animals, but not all animals are dogs” situation.
Now, onto the definitions:
Hyflex: Classes combine in-person work and synchronous remote learning. What this means to you is on certain days, you go to a classroom. Other days, you attend class remotely, participating through Teams or another video chat. The remote versions of your class occur in real time, which means you will “attend” class virtually at the same time you would be there physically. For example, you might be in class every Monday at 9:40 and log into class every Wednesday at 9:40.
Hybrid: A hybrid class will have you and a group of your peers to attend face-to-face classes once or twice a week, depending on classroom size, and then engage with remote components when you aren’t in class. All students experience the same material, but instead of all of you learning it at the same time [the synchronous model that we saw in Hyflex], you are learning it through a series of in-class discussions, outside readings, captured video, and other asynchronous learning tools. In a hybrid option, you might find yourself going to a classroom on a Monday and Wednesday, and then the next week, participating in a series of student-led discussions and producing your own videos.
Blended: A blended course takes parts of the Hyflex — usually the remote synchronous learning—and blends them with parts of the hybrid class. A blended course might have you attend face-to-face class on Monday, spend Wednesday participating in a synchronous Teams lecture, and then spend the next Monday working on a virtual group project.
Remote: A few courses will be offered remotely. In remote learning, you are participating in the same course as you would in on-ground, but you are doing all of the learning remotely. The majority of your learning will happen synchronously, but there will be many opportunities for asynchronous work like virtual group projects and outside instructional activities.
Face-to-Face: Some classes will continue as they did pre-pandemic. You will attend class in person, interact with your peers safely, work with your faculty members, and experience the benefits that this learning can provide. Keep in mind that even classes that are face-to-face will still require social distancing, have an element of remote learning, and the wearing of masks. One important note: There will be a small percentage of classes that can only have face-to-face instruction. If you are registered for one of these courses and are unable to attend physically, Point Park will work with you to change your schedule with a minimum of disruption.
Student Choice: In addition to the flexibility in teaching classes, Point Park is offering you flexibility in how you take your classes. You will be offered an opportunity to decide if you want to take all your courses remotely or on-ground. Choosing to take courses remotely means you are taking the same course that other students are taking as an on-ground course; you are simply deciding that it makes more sense in your life right now to take the course remotely. You will have until August 14 to make this decision, and the University will send detailed instructions on how to make your choice.
Important things to keep in mind:
- With the exception of all-remote learning, no matter what type of course you are in, you will have the opportunity to have face-to-face instruction. We know many of you chose Point Park because you want to be in a classroom and have opportunities to learn material in a hands-on fashion.
- At the same time, each of these course types has a remote element. The University needs to keep you and the greater community safe, and one of the best ways to do this is by maintaining social distance and limiting crowds.
- Learning happens everywhere. If the faculty does its job teaching, which it will, and you do your job engaging with the material, you will learn the same, if not more, as you would in what used to be called a “normal” semester. It’s more about the actual learning than the modality.
- All faculty will be trained before the Fall term begins to use the learning modalities described above that pertain to their courses.
- If you have any specific course related issues, contact your faculty member first.
Keep checking your email: As Point Park continues to be flexible about how it teaches classes and works to ensure your safety, you can help yourself by checking your email or Point Web on a regular basis. Classes may meet at different times than originally scheduled or in different buildings on campus, and Point Park email and Point Web are the easiest, and, frankly, the official place to get this information. Please immediately contact your Center for Student Success advisor if you need to make an adjustment in your schedule because of these changes.
Communicating with faculty: Another easy thing that you can do to help yourself, as well as the rest of the campus community, is communicate with your faculty members if you are forced into a quarantine situation, or, even worse, become ill. If you know you can’t leave your room for 14 days, let your faculty members know. This way, they know that you will be participating in the course through one of the many ways we discussed earlier. Letting faculty know what is going on will help ensure that you are given every opportunity to succeed in the course.
Grading Policy for Fall 2020
Pass/No Credit: Because of the current circumstances with the pandemic, Point Park is offering the same Pass/No Credit option that it offered in the Spring semester. Once you have seen your grades, you will be given a week-long period to decide on which grades you want to keep, grades you wish to turn into a P, and grades you wish to take the No Credit option for.
I know that there is a lot of information in this message: course types, your choices as a student, grading, and communication. However, the most important things to remember: Point Park remains committed to providing you with an exceptional learning environment where you take courses from dedicated faculty members and are supported by a range of talented professionals. If we — and by we, I mean students, staff, faculty, and administration — remain focused on these core ideas, then this semester will be filled with the projects, activities, and experiences that we have come to expect from Point Park.
Any questions about the information contained in this letter should be addressed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be doing a series of videos, just as we did in the Spring, to further explain the various forms of course modalities that will be available to students this fall.
Finally, remember to take care of yourselves and each other. Sleep more. Exercise if you can. Pet a dog if there is one around: cats are good too. Talk to a friend you haven’t seen in a year. Wave to people, even though you both are wearing masks. There are still amazing experiences happening every day, and we need to pay attention to them. Small victories and small joys matter, perhaps now more than ever.
I am here to help,