Instruction FAQ for Instructors - Fall 2020

Published 07/09/20. Last updated 07/30/20.

The following answers reflect the most current (July 29, 2020) planning on our campus for Fall 2020 instruction. Although subsequent developments in public health guidance may make changes necessary, these answers are intended to provide the best and most up-to-date basis for Fall 2020 instructional planning. 

This document lists questions commonly encountered by instructors. Instructors are strongly encouraged to read through the Instruction FAQ for Students on the Office of the Registrar website, which both provides up-to-date information on logistics for Fall 2020 planning, and also conveys a sense of the students' perspective on these 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 Remote Pedagogy Task Force in the Social Sciences Division of L&S has produced a very useful compilation of Advice for Remote Teaching, which includes both general approaches as well as specific guidance regarding technological options available through the campus. For more general ongoing updates on the campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic, see this campus listing of resources and support.


Note: As of July 21, 2020, campus administration has determined that the Fall 2020 semester will begin with entirely remote instruction (details are available here).

In-person or hybrid instructional modes will be activated later in the semester if the broader public health situation allows. 

The first two questions below relate to plans in the wake of the July 21 announcement. Further items below relating to in-person or hybrid instruction will remain moot pending possible reactivation of plans for in-person or hybrid instruction at some point during the Fall 2020 semester. Rather than delete these items, however, we have moved them to an addendum section of this document for reference in the event that the in-person or hybrid options are reactivated on some scale during Fall 2020. 

This is a living document that will be supplemented and updated as needed on an ongoing basis. If you would like to propose a question to include here, or any other additions or corrections, please submit them to

Addendum: Information on In-Person Instruction
(for reference in the event of a partial return to in-person instruction in Fall 2020)


Q: Can I determine now whether my class would be one that would move to in-person instruction if/when the campus later allows for some in-person classes?

A. Campus is evaluating space and public safety guidance to determine which currently coded “in-person” classes would be allowed to resume in person if public health conditions allow.

Q: If my class had been listed as in-person, does this mean it will definitely change from remote to in-person if/when the campus later opens for in-person classes?

A. Classes with the in-person mode of instruction will be converted to the flexible mode of instruction to indicate that students will have the option of attending in-person assuming public health conditions allow. Campus is evaluating space to determine which classes would be offered in person from the list of those initially granted provisional approval. 

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

A. “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 designed from the outset for delivery via distance-learning methods. On this distinction and its implications see also COCI’s Statement on Fall 2020 Instruction.


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

A. 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 2020 Instruction.

Q. How should I treat the designated workload and contact hours for my course as I adapt it for remote instruction?  

A. As a general rule, it is clearly desirable that the experience of a course offered via remote instruction mirror that of an in-person class as closely as feasible. Given the vast diversity of both courses and clienteles across campus, however, in practice instructors will need to be flexible and agile in making the best choices for their own circumstances. A basic principle is that a course’s workload, as laid out in COCI’s guidelines on Designation of Unit Value, should remain in line with that for a non-emergency semester. Although synchronous remote instruction may often be the closest approximation to “class contact time,” in some circumstances (e.g., students in widely disparate time zones), rigidly matching synchronous instruction hours to the weekly class contact hours specified in the course’s catalog description may not be the best or most practical option. In particular, instructors should be careful not simply to assign asynchronous instructional activities in addition to normal workload expectations. See also COCI’s Statement Regarding Fall 2020 Instruction and Planning).

Q. Are there particular issues I should bear in mind in relation to DSP accommodations in Fall 2020?

A. 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 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.
    1. 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. Information and training is available at: 

Kaltura Overview

Workshop registration and availability:

 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.

  1. For 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.


Q. How can I address concerns relating to academic integrity as I adapt my course to remote instruction?

A. All disciplines are not created equal when it comes to finding ways to carry out graded assessments remotely without compromising academic integrity. In some courses, instructors may choose to replace timed exams with papers or oral presentations. Papers can be checked for plagiarism within bCourses. Oral presentations are unlikely to reflect the work of students other than the presenter. For courses that rely primarily on exams, faculty concerns about cheating are exacerbated by the lack of in-person proctoring during this time of shelter in place, although there will be some possibilities for proctoring of final exams via Zoom (see below, as well as the Remote Proctoring FAQ prepared by the Center for Teaching and Learning). While there is no magic solution, the Academic Senate maintains a collection of best practices for remote assessment that examines this issue, and many others, in more detail. You may also consult the overview of options for “anti-cheating” measures in online assessments provided in the Advice for Remote Teaching produced by the Division of Social Sciences’ Remote Pedagogy Task Force.

 One strategy to mitigate cheating and remind students of their obligation not just to themselves but to the community is to have a statement on an exam that the student must sign. To this end, the honor code at Berkeley is simple:

 “As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others.” 

The code was developed by the ASUC in conjunction with the Graduate Assembly, the Deans of Letters and Sciences, and the Academic Senate. The honor code does not preclude instructors from including statements about honesty and integrity on their exams and assessments. For example, students could be required to sign a pledge along the lines of: “I swear on my honor that I have neither given nor received aid with this assessment/exam.” Students should also be reminded that penalties for cheating on exams could be severe – failure of the course at a minimum and possibly suspension.

Concerns about academic integrity are another reason to avoid grading on a curve that predetermines what share of students receive an A, B, C, etc.: students who cheat may still get their A’s, but in the absence of a curve, their “success” will not reduce the chances for other students to get A’s as well. If you decide to grade on a curve nonetheless, be sure to inform your class how the curve will work, in particular, how the scores of students who take the class P/NP will be treated. 


Q. What policies will be in effect for Fall 2020 final examinations?

A. Guidelines for Fall 2020 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 2020 Instruction


Q. What provisions will be in place for remote proctoring? Will these be available for midterms or other in-term evaluations, or limited to final exams?

A. Online proctoring is a desirable resource in many courses, but designing a viable method poses complex logistical as well as legal challenges. The campus has released a Remote Proctoring Policy for Summer Sessions and Fall Semester. Briefly, there is a pilot program for Zoom proctoring of final exams in the Fall 2020 semester. Colleges and Schools that wish to be part of this proctoring option in the fall must submit their request to before August 1, 2020. Information on campus plans for limited online proctoring in Fall 2020 can also be found in the Remote Proctoring FAQ prepared by the Center for Teaching and Learning. Note that under current plans online proctoring will be limited to final examinations.The campus has released a Remote Proctoring Policy for Summer Sessions and Fall Semester

Q. If I can only proctor my final and not my midterm with Zoom, can I eliminate my midterm and put all that weight on the final?

A. A more balanced approach would be preferable. Instructors may wish or need to be flexible in assigning values to grade components in an approved course in response to the changed circumstances of instruction in Fall 2020, particularly in cases where there are concerns about the integrity of course assessments. Such adjustments, however, should adhere in general character as closely as possible to the grading scheme of the course as approved by COCI.


Q. What are the implications of Fall 2020 instruction plans for international students?

A. While remote instruction may alleviate some issues relating to international students unable to come to campus due to visa or other constraints, other issues relating to visas or immigration status may be triggered by the large-scale move to remote instruction. You may 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. 

Q. What resources or guidance can I refer to in adapting to a class with students who may be scattered across disparate time zones?

A. For how to hold exams for students who are scattered across different time zones, consult the “best practices” here: For best practices regarding how to use asynchronous instruction effectively for students who are in time zones that make synchronous attendance difficult, see:

Q. Can I require attendance for the synchronous meeting of my remote course?

A. Yes. Attendance policies are at the discretion of the instructor.  

The waiver of attendance requirements was for a brief period in March 2020 when we were unexpectedly transitioning to remote instruction and students were relocating. You should inform students in writing of how you will measure attendance. Will you use Zoom’s “usage report” or some other means? If a student is muted with video off, will that count as attending? That said, you may want to consider whether you will accommodate students in different time zones or with connectivity/privacy issues. For instance, one idea is to allow a student’s absence from the synchronous meeting to be offset with a paper reflecting on that day’s readings. 

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers the following advice for best practices related to attendance in remote instruction: “We recognize that attendance and participation are, for many faculty, fundamental elements of their classes. Many faculty may have students who, due to circumstances beyond their control, find it difficult to consistently engage in synchronous remote instruction. The following are examples of alternatives to synchronous attendance and participation.”

Q. Can I require that students attending synchronous class meetings via Zoom do so with their video turned on?

A. Yes, but remember there are reasons some participants keep their video off. Some computers don’t have sufficient bandwidth to manage a meeting in which everyone’s video is on, especially if several people are sharing a single internet connection. Some participants may have privacy issues, or may not be suitably dressed and groomed. One idea is to survey your students before or as the term begins and ask them if there are reasons they will be unable to keep their video on. If there are bandwidth issues, can they turn the video on during breakout rooms? Can they turn their video on briefly, for instance when they ask a question or when you call on them? You can also develop alternate ways of assessing the extent to which students are "tuned in” and participating, for example, by requiring them to submit questions and comments in the “chat” or orally, or by designing a homework assignment that asks them to reflect on some aspect of the synchronous class session, etc.

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

A. The Graduate Division has compiled the following document addressing some of the common concerns particular to GSIs in the changed circumstances of Fall 2020: 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: 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.


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

A. 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.”


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

A. No—along with public health guidance regarding safe use of shared spaces, it will be important to bear in mind that a) 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, and b) all classes, including those approved for in-person or partially in-person instruction in Fall 2020, will move to remote instruction as of Thanksgiving.

Q. If my class is approved for in-person instruction, am I required to provide a remote option as well?

A. There is no strict requirement for every class approved for in-person instruction to offer a remote alternative. Some in-person classes may not reasonably be able to be offered remotely (e.g., fieldwork, a clinical experience, or a lab course). Nonetheless, all academic units should adhere to the principle that a student’s inability to participate in in-person instruction in Fall 2020 should not impede that student’s progress with program or degree requirements. In some instances this may require colleges and programs to exercise flexibility in waiving requirements or offering substitutions to allow students who are only able to attend classes remotely to maintain timely progress.

Q. How should instructors or their academic units handle enrollment for in-person classes, in light of the campus-wide maximum of 26 (25 students + 1 instructor)?

A. As Fall 2020 classes are approved for in-person instruction, it may happen that existing enrollment exceeds this maximum of 25 students. In such instances, there are two options.

  1. The department will need to administratively drop students from the in-person component in order to lower enrollment to a maximum of 25 students. The department should notify the students it is forced to drop from such classes in a timely manner so that the students can select an alternative course.
  2. If the instructor is comfortable teaching to both an in-person and remote section, a remote section could be added. A scheduler could assist with the transfer of students from the in-person to the remote section. Instructors should consult with their department schedulers for additional information.

Q.  How will students find information about the mode of instruction for their classes?

A. The modes of instruction available in Fall 2020 are in-person, remote, hybrid, flexible, and web-based. For definitions of each, see the Student Instruction FAQ. Students can find up-to-date information on the mode of instruction for each class in the Berkeley Academic Guide Class Search, the Cal Central Schedule of Classes, or the Schedule Planner. The Academic Guide Class Search is publicly available and instructions appear on the homepage. The latter two (Cal Central Schedule and the Schedule Planner) are only available within a student’s CalCentral but you can review a CalCentral enrollment guide for students. It will be helpful to make yourself familiar with those resources so that you see the students’ view on instructional formats. More generally, it is a good idea to be as detailed and specific as possible about the instructional mode of your class (e.g. how synchronous and asynchronous components of instruction will be deployed) in documents such as online course descriptions, syllabi, and so on, to allow students to make the best choices for their circumstances. Detailed and specific information that is shared with the department scheduler can be surfaced to students in the “class notes” section of the online class schedule. Advisors are regularly directing students to “class notes” for additional information.


Q. When will academic units receive confirmation regarding requests to offer Fall 2020 classes (fully or partially) in person?

A. Notifications are being issued on a rolling basis, based on ongoing assessments of the campus’s capacity to offer in-person instruction safely. Classes approved for fully or partially in-person instruction will be listed on the Office of the Registrar website. Please understand, though, that Fall plans could still be disrupted by COVID-19. Therefore, all “approvals” for in-person instruction in Fall 2020 remain in effect provisional approvals. Changes in guidance from campus, or in directives from the  City of Berkeley and Alameda County public health departments may require ongoing adjustments.