Frequently Asked Questions - Instructor FAQ fall 2021

Important additional resources

This document lists questions commonly encountered by instructors. Instructors are also strongly encouraged to read through the Instruction FAQ for Students on the Office of the Registrar website, which also provides up-to-date information but focuses on the students’ perspective on instructional issues.

Helpful guides and strategies for remote teaching can be found on the Keep Teaching website, along with links to important updates and communications as they become available.

The online resources for Reading & Composition instructors includes a good deal of information of general interest.

For further general ongoing updates on the campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic, see this campus listing of resources and support.

Note: Campus administration announced on 3/16/2021 that for the Fall 2021 semester most classes would be taught in person. The exceptions are classes with enrollment of 200 or more, classes already designed and approved as online courses, and classes that receive permission to be taught remotely during Fall 2021. All plans announced 3/16/2021 are subject to change as public health or other conditions necessitate.

A second message on 4/14/2021 provided more information about Fall 2021 planning and links for those who wish to request an exception from in-person instruction. The EVCP’s office encourages all instructors to review this Remote Accommodations Guidance for Instruction which includes an overview of exceptions to the default in-person modality, and notes on temporary shifts to emergency remote instruction, and exams. Instructors who need to request an exception should read the guidance document and the detailed Exception to In-person Instruction: Process document. 

A message on 7/12/2021 provided information about the Fall 2021 remote proctoring policy for exams. All instructors who intend to use remote proctoring should read the instructor responsibilities and best practices and are encouraged to attend an important 1 hour remote informational session on August 18, 2021, 5-6 pm. The link to the RSVP form is in the Cal Message.

About this FAQ

The following answers reflect the most current planning on our campus for Fall 2021 instruction. Although subsequent developments in public health guidance may necessitate changes, these answers are intended to provide the best and most up-to-date basis for instructional planning.

This document will be supplemented and updated as needed on an ongoing basis. If you would like to propose an additional question, or if you have other additions or corrections, please email aschair@berkeley.edu.

Last updated 08/23/21.

Is the 199 student maximum based on the capacity of my class, the actual enrollment for my class, or the number of students who typically attend in person?

The 199 student maximum is based on the enrollment capacity as listed in the schedule of classes.

How should instructors or their academic units handle enrollment for in-person classes, in light of the campus-wide maximum of 199 students?

Department schedulers are able to set enrollment limits on classes, so that the enrollment does not reach 200 students. However, if the enrollment limit is exceeded the department may consider 1) dropping the last student enrolled until enrollment falls within campus guidelines, 2) limiting in-person daily attendance to 199 students and providing the remaining students with remote options for obtaining a class meeting’s course content, or 3) transferring a student from an in-person meeting section to a remote meeting section. Instructors should consult with their department schedulers for additional information.

How was enrollment of 200 determined to be the cutoff for in-person vs. remote instruction?

200 was chosen because it was the maximum gathering size permitted on campus under “yellow tier” under the public safety tiers as they applied in January 2021, when this planning began. Although this cap was lifed on June 15, 2021, we are keeping the 200 enrollment cut-off because many people have already oriented themselves to it and made plans based on it.

My class usually enrolls 225 students. Can I change the maximum enrollment to 199 so that I can teach in person rather than remotely in the fall?

Changing the maximum enrollment is at the discretion of the department, in consultation with the instructor.

What are the criteria for determining who will teach remotely in the fall?

Only three major categories of classes will be offered remotely (in addition to those approved by COCI as online courses). (1) Classes with 200 or more students; (2) Classes where the instructor requires a medical or disability accommodation (see https://ofew.berkeley.edu/equity/disability); (3) A small number of additional courses which circumstances require to be taught remotely were also approved. Requests were submitted using this processSee full guidance here.

 

I am apprehensive about teaching in-person given current COVID infection rates, and would like to teach remotely for the first two weeks. Is this permitted?

The campus has not declared a public health emergency and remote teaching is not permitted, except for classes with enrollments of over 200 students and in some specific and limited instances (described below).

If all of my teaching in Fall 2021 is remote, am I required to be in residence in the Fall? Does “in residence” mean I must work from my office, or can I continue to teach from home or other off-campus location?

In-person engagement is part of a vibrant campus experience that fosters discovery and education. Reflecting that, University policy (APM 730) states, "Academic personnel appointed on an academic-year basis are expected to be in residence from the day designated in the University Calendar as the opening of the Fall term through the end of the Spring term." Senate faculty are expected, therefore, to maintain a presence on campus with most activities, in addition to their teaching, being done in-person (including some of their office hours). Those faculty who seek an exception should discuss with their department chair to see if their situation accords with one or more of the limited number of grounds for an exception.

 

What provisions will be in place for remote proctoring?

All instructors are permitted to use Zoom for remote proctoring in fall 2021 for both midterm and final exams. Instructors are not permitted to use third party proctoring products, with the exception of a small pilot of HonorLock within the Haas School of Business. 

All instructors who intend to use remote proctoring must read the instructor responsibilities and best practices and should plan to attend a 1 hour training session, on August 18, 2021, 5pm-6pm. RSVP to this session here. This session will be facilitated by instructors who have successfully used remote proctoring in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, and will include feedback from students, and GSIs.

In addition to use of remote proctoring, instructors are encouraged to use a range of tools to cultivate an atmosphere that fosters academic honesty. Many instructors require students to sign an Honor Code pledge before an exam, and engage students in open discussion about the impacts of cheating. Programs like Turnitin.com use datasets and similarity algorithms to flag content that is similar to previously completed exams and assignments. 

More details can be found in this summary of Best Practices for Remote Examinations compiled by members of the Berkeley Academic Senate, or in the Remote Proctoring FAQ prepared by the Center for Teaching and Learning.

What policies will be in effect for Fall 2021 final examinations?

Guidelines for Fall 2021 final examinations will be the same as those for final examinations in Spring 2020—alternate means of final assessment will be permitted with the approval of the department chair, but without need for COCI approval. See also COCI’s statement on Fall 2021 Instruction.

I am an instructor of a remote class and would like to offer an in-person exam. How should I proceed?

There may be an option for instructors to schedule in-person exams for remote class sections, to be taken by students who live on or near campus and wish to take exams in-person but are not enrolled in any in-person components of the course. Work with your department scheduler and the Office of the Registrar to request space. Space availability may be the binding constraint. If you have departmental space available, that is your first-best option. If you are able to secure departmental or GA space and offer an in-person exam for your remote class, remember that you may need to continue to offer at least some students the option of a  remote exam if, for instance, they are unable to return to campus due to travel restrictions or if a health condition prevents them from receiving a COVID vaccine.

I am an instructor teaching a remote class that holds some discussion sections in person and some discussion sections remotely. How should I deliver exams?

In general, your starting point should be to hold the exams in the same format in which most students are receiving instruction. This is not a requirement for faculty, but it is the assumption that lies behind the allocation of classrooms for Fall 2021. If your lecture is remote, no rooms have been reserved for you for midterms or for finals. This is true whether all, some, or none of the associated discussion/lab sections are in-person. 

If your lecture is remote and you want to hold in-person midterm exams, you have two options. One is to hold the exam during the discussion/lab sections since those students already have a room to meet in. With multiple sections, though, this might require multiple exams to ensure academic integrity. The other option is to hold the exam at a common time, perhaps in the evening. In this case, you need to work with your department scheduler asap to try to reserve rooms for the exams. Space availability may be the binding constraint. Flexibility will be important, both for the usual student athlete/musician/etc. and DSP accommodations as well as for students who were unable to travel to Berkeley due to international travel and visa restrictions. 

 

Can midterm exams be scheduled at pre-pandemic density?

In-person exams can be scheduled at the same density as instruction. That said, if public health conditions lead to a change in guidance, in-person instruction and exams could be impacted. For that reason, all instructors should be prepared to pivot to remote instruction at any point during the semester.

Should instructors of fully in-person classes make any preparation to offer remote exams in the event of emergency conditions?

All instructors should be prepared to pivot to remote instruction in the event of a public health or climate emergency situation.

When is it permitted to pivot to remote instruction?

Campus may issue a directive to shift to remote instruction based on public health conditions, fire-related poor air quality, or some other emergency. A temporary shift to remote instruction is also appropriate if an instructor is ill. For short illnesses faculty should do what they would have done before the pandemic, whether cancelling a class, offering the class remotely, or giving a small assignment to substitute for the class session. For longer illnesses, or if a faculty member (or their young children) are instructed by public health to quarantine/isolate for ~10 days, instructors should confer with their chair and communicate an agreed-upon solution to students as soon as possible.

In pivoting to remote instruction, communication with students is key. Students should be reminded of the possibility at the start of the semester so that they may make remote arrangements on their end (finding a space, wifi, devices, and other technical requirements).

My course is approved as a course with a final exam, but I would instead like to have students do a final project or paper. Do I need anyone’s permission in order to make that change?

The COCI Handbook (section 722) stipulates that a final examination that may take up to three hours to complete is required in all undergraduate classes. Permanent exceptions to that requirement require COCI approval. Your department chair has the authority to make a one-time exception to the final exam requirement.

Is it acceptable to have office hours online rather than in person?

The key here is communication with your students and ensuring that the mode of delivery of office hours supports their learning. Currently, it is acceptable to hold some office hours online rather than in person. In addition, keep in mind that Senate faculty are expected to be in residence (physically on campus). Instructors who are teaching entirely remotely and don't have permanent/regular office space on campus will be allowed to hold all of their office hours remotely if they wish.

I would like to do a mix of in-person and remote teaching for my Fall 2021 class, with some sessions in person and some via Zoom. Do I need permission to hold some of my class sessions remotely? Does it depend on how many sessions are remote vs in-person?

No permission from COCI is required for occasional remote sessions that are designed to promote student learning. COCI approval is required only for courses that (a) do not fall under the campus remote instruction guidelines but plan to include online components (a component is a lecture, discussion, lab, etc.), and/or (b) plan to include online components in future semesters, after emergency remote instruction has ended.

When will 25Live be enabled for Fall 2021 room reservations?

25Live is now open for both student and staff reservations.

I’ve been assigned a classroom for in-person teaching that has no windows that open and has poor ventilation. Can I get a different room assignment?

As noted on April 23, 2021, “the planned return to full in-person operations for the fall semester assumes that a high percentage of our campus population is vaccinated and that there are low case rates. If this is the situation, we will return to pre-pandemic use of all buildings, classrooms and other spaces regardless of ventilation status.”

I teach a large-enrollment class in which many students attend asynchronously by accessing the Course Capture. If my course enrollment is over 199, will I be able to teach in a large on-campus classroom while still having the students attending remotely?

Probably not. There are some classes that are being taught remotely but are using the large-enrollment classrooms because of particular needs (chemistry needs equipment that is in Pimentel, for instance). If there is particular equipment you need that can only be found in an on-campus classroom, contact your department scheduler asap. But keep in mind that there are only 4 large-enrollment GA classrooms (greater than 300 seats). If you need a recording space but not necessarily one of the large-enrollment classrooms, that may be an easier request to fill. See the next question.

If I am teaching from my on-campus office, what is the status of the wifi? In the past, it has been spotty at best and certainly not capable of a sustained zoom session.

If you are teaching a class that must be remote and you do not have adequate wifi from your on-campus office, first speak to your department chair or professional school dean. Most departments and schools will be able to resolve wifi challenges. Chairs and deans who are not able to address locally inadequate wifi problems should contact Jenn Stringer (Associate Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO).

If I am teaching a class that must be remote, can I have on-campus space in which to teach? I do not have my own office on campus and/or to be effective in teaching, I need access to facilities that can’t be duplicated in my home or campus space.

If you are teaching a class that must be remote and you do not have a suitable space from which to teach, first speak to your department chair or professional school dean.  The EVCP has asked the dept chairs to "consider designating some underutilized, departmentally-controlled spaces for use by lecturers, GSIs, or other instructors who may not have private offices, for recording remote lectures or engaging in virtual office hours." Most departments and schools will be able to provide suitable space. Chairs and deans who are not able to accommodate the needs for space from which to conduct remote instruction should contact Digital Learning Services.

Teaching my course remotely worked out well for the students. If I prefer to teach online rather than in person not just in Fall 2021 but permanently, what do I need to submit to COCI and by when in order to get the course approved as an online course?

When you submit your course modification proposal in CMS, you will need to provide information about what is expected of students in the online version of your course. COCI has provided guidelines that should be considered when proposing an online course in COCI Handbook 2.5 Web-based and Online Courses. The schedule for COCI review can be found here.

If my class is approved for in-person delivery, can I expect a “normal” semester of classroom instruction?

No—along with public health guidance regarding safe use of shared spaces, it will be important to bear in mind that you will need to retain a plan for moving back to remote instruction at any time if developments relating to public health (or other emergencies) render it necessary. For example, if classroom buildings are closed for a period due to smoke from a wildfire, you may be able to shift your class to remote instruction for one or two meetings. 

How can I best prepare my course and my students for a power outage, particularly one which disrupts a scheduled exam?

Do your best to plan ahead and provide clear messages about how you will handle power outages and related disruptions. Let students know how you plan to communicate with them in the event of a disruption, with a method that is as robust to power outages and disruptions as possible, keeping in mind that there may be inevitable delays in sending and receiving these communications. Let students know how you expect them to handle assignments, exams, and access to course materials in the event of a disruption. Include these plans in your syllabus. Announce them verbally on Day 1. Be sure all GSIs are aware of these plans. In the week leading up to any exam, both you and your GSIs should reiterate your plans in written announcements to the students.

If you must cancel synchronous lectures because you, your GSIs, or some or all of your students are without power, you may cancel the class, or reschedule it, or provide  asynchronous materials (e.g. readings, pre-recorded lectures) once power has been restored. 

If you must reschedule an exam, try not to be in an urgent rush to complete the exam. If possible, wait at least 24-48 hours after the return of power, especially for extended outages. It is likely that you and your students will have practical concerns that may take precedence immediately after power is restored.

For more info, the Instructional Resilience Checklist contains a full list of suggestions of what to do before and after a disruption.

How should I approach the teaching of my course if the Air Quality Index from wildfire smoke forces campus to close?

As we did in fall 2019, if campus is forced to close because of fires, you should conduct your class remotely.

I am a GSI. Where can I find information about remote teaching for GSIs?

The Graduate Division has compiled the following document addressing some of the common concerns particular to GSIs in the changed circumstances of Fall 2020: Addressing GSI Concerns: Fall 2020 Instruction FAQ. The GSI Remote Teaching Hub is a useful centralized source of information relating particularly to issues encountered with remote instruction. GSIs may also find it useful to consult the resources for instructors compiled by the Center for Teaching and Learning, which includes situations often encountered by GSIs: Resources. First-time GSIs in particular will want to be aware of the teaching conference for first-time GSIs being offered by the Graduate Division. More generally, up to date information relevant to GSIs is available via Grad. Div’s GSI Teaching and Resource Center.

I am an instructor who works with GSIs. How can I prevent remote instruction from creating increased workload for my GSIs, as per regulations?

As noted by the Graduate Division, “As per the Graduate Council Policy on Appointments and Mentoring of GSIs, faculty members who teach with GSIs are required to meet with GSIs before the semester begins to review the course syllabus, clarify GSI responsibilities in the course, and, in the case of discussion sections and labs, describe the relationship of sections to lecture. If a course is being taught remotely, the Instructor of Record should also convey to GSIs in this meeting the number of hours per week that GSIs are expected to meet synchronously with their students and the number of hours they should devote to preparing asynchronous learning activities.

That workload expectation cannot exceed the hourly limits provided in the ASE UAW contract. GSIs should keep track of their hours. If GSIs find they are working more than allowed under the contract, they should approach their supervisor immediately so that their duties may be adjusted. Their Faculty Advisor GSI Affairs and department chair are also there to help make certain GSI workload remains within contractual parameters.”

How will the current instructional plans affect international students?

In general, international students in residence in Berkeley typically have a visa requirement of taking at least 1 in-person class. We are offering enough in-person courses that meeting this requirement should be straightforward. Any student with an issue should consult their academic advisor. 

At the same time, there will be a number of our international students who are unable to enter the US this fall and who will rely on remote instruction. Instructors should continue to be as helpful as possible to students who are multiple time zones away from Berkeley.

For further information, consult this informational page addressing common areas of concern, compiled by the Berkeley International Office, which will be the primary source for ongoing updates on these issues.

Are there particular issues I should bear in mind in relation to DSP accommodations?

The following are some of the most common situations. For further information, you may also consult DSP’s own FAQ for Faculty, which includes useful guidance specific to remote instruction, along with Creating Accessible Content.

1. Two of the most common issues relating to online instruction are poor audio and video quality of recorded classes and a need for captioning. 

  1. On audio and video quality: you can request equipment (e.g., microphones and cameras) for remote instruction via the “Get Equipped” link on the Keep Teaching website. Beyond technology, be mindful of the need to speak clearly and at an appropriate pace. Remember that some students are aided by seeing your mouth, so if you are screen sharing a whiteboard or powerpoint, consider having two devices so that you can also have a webcam trained on your face.
  2. On the need for captioning: The introduction of Kaltura, a web-based video management platform that allows UC Berkeley instructors, students and staff to upload, edit, manage and share videos and other media, is expected to help. Note that processing times for captioning may not be immediate, so uploaded pre-recorded videos may not immediately have captioning. Information and training is available at: Kaltura Service and Support dls.berkeley.edu/services/kaltura

If you would like to arrange for DSP to provide captioning for your lectures, consult the link DSP, LOAs and accommodations for your students | Center for Teaching & Learning.

2. For DSP accommodations regarding exams, quizzes, and other timed assessments, bear in mind that both bCourses and gradescope offer ways to automatically provide extended time. For students whose exam and quiz accommodations include more than extended time (scribe, etc.), contact the DSP proctoring service as soon as possible to make arrangements.

 

Are instructors expected to follow “Berkeley Time”?

Instructors are expected to continue to follow “Berkeley time”: by the “Berkeley Time” convention, instruction in class meetings normally begins ten minutes after the official start time. For example, a class whose time is listed in the schedule as 10:00-10:59 begins at 10:10 and ends at 11:00. A 9:30-10:59 class runs from 9:40-11:00. While instructors and students in a remote setting do not need to travel between or “reset” classrooms, that time is still reserved for students and instructors to prepare their virtual spaces for the next course, to build in short breaks from Zoom, and to take care of any physical needs. Instructors might also consider beginning the class zoom feed on “clock time,” while delaying the formal beginning of class until “Berkeley time.” Such a window just before class for some less structured interaction (with the instructor and among the students themselves) may help make the remote instruction scenario feel a bit less impersonal.

What is “remote instruction” and how does it differ from “teaching an online course”?

“Remote instruction” applies to the emergency online delivery of an in-person course as part of the campus COVID-19 emergency response. An online course is a course that has been  approved by COCI for online delivery in a typical, non-emergency semester. On this distinction and its implications see also COCI’s Statement on Fall 2021 Instruction.

Do changes made to adapt a course to remote instruction need COCI approval?

No, changes made to adapt a course to remote instruction do not need COCI approval. Remote instruction is a temporary, emergency measure for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, not a permanent change to the course. COCI, therefore, considers a course offered via remote instruction as part of the campus COVID-19 emergency response to be the same course as initially approved. Accordingly, COCI approval is not required. See COCI’s Statement on Fall 2021 Instruction.