Fall 2020 Suggested Universal Syllabus Language

Dear fellow faculty and instructional staff,

In uncertain times, the Instructional Work Group hopes to take some of the mystery out of instruction for faculty and students.  We know in-person instruction at IWU will have new considerations with masks and social distancing.  Online instruction will also bring new considerations.  Within two student surveys, IWU students strongly indicated that online instruction varied so greatly between courses, students had difficulty learning and accessing instruction.

To support students and faculty, the Instructional Work Group is offering suggestions for shared syllabus language on logistical issues related to our new instructional environments.  For faculty, we hope you will find the suggested language helpful in preparing your courses and thinking through new instructional necessities like masks, participation in zoom, and other unique features of this fall.  If implemented, instructors' use of shared language will support students in navigating course logistics so they can focus their energies on learning.

Please note two requirements for all classes that are reflected in the syllabus language: 1) Moodle will be used as the digital hub for all Fall 2020 courses, and 2) instructors will take attendance at all in-person class sessions to facilitate contact tracing.

In order to facilitate this work, Information Technology Services is creating training materials, offering “done for you” instructional design services, and offering workshops as part of the CETAL summer series. Please visit the ITS website for more information on how to access training materials or submit an instructional design request.

Language for any course with an in-person component

Health & Safety 

Students are expected to adhere to the Titans Caring for Titans Pledge and act as an advocate for a safe learning environment for all students, faculty, and staff. In accordance with that Honor Code:

Students are expected to consistently monitor their health and refrain from attending class in-person if they have any symptoms of illness (general illness, or symptoms specifically associated with COVID-19 such as fever of 100.4 F or higher, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, abdominal discomfort, or new loss of taste or smell). If you arrive to class with respiratory symptoms (sneezing, coughing), faculty may ask you to leave.

When in-class, students must consistently demonstrate the following behaviors to ensure the safest environment possible:

  • Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner upon entry to the classroom
  • Sit only in the seat/area that you are assigned at the beginning of the semester
  • Arrive as early as possible to the classroom to allow time for cleaning/disinfection of the surfaces in the seat/area you are assigned to sit (seat, desktop) 
  • Wear a mask at all times while in class; your mask must cover your nose and mouth at all times. Therefore, eating and drinking are not allowed during class.

Failure to adhere to these expectations will compromise the learning environment for everyone in the classroom. A student who does not adhere to these behaviors will be referred to the Dean of Students Office and may lose the privilege of attending class in-person. 

Accommodations for Attendance Due to Illness

Attendance must be taken at every in-person class session to support contact tracing.  If you need to refrain from attending a scheduled class in-person or on-line due to illness or medically required quarantine or isolation, please notify the instructor as soon as possible. The instructor acknowledges the need to be flexible due to the circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and will make reasonable accommodations for absences and for providing make-up work.

Examples of situations in which you may need to notify faculty of the need to be absent or attend on-line:

  • Active respiratory illness (COVID-19 or other) 
  • Recent recovery from a respiratory illness, but consistent cough remains
  • Recent exposure to someone known or suspected of having COVID-19, while awaiting test results

Recording of Classes/Privacy Statement

Recording of in-person classes at Illinois Wesleyan University may occur for the benefit of students who cannot attend.  In accordance with the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, students will be notified of class recordings.  These recordings will be made available only to students enrolled in the class to assist those who cannot attend the live session or to serve as a resource for those who would like to review content that was presented.

Language for any course with an online component

How do students access this course?

All courses at Illinois Wesleyan will use Moodle (directly at courses.iwu.edu or via the MyIWU portal) as students’ one-stop-shop for information.  As a student, you can expect to find the following on Moodle:

[Instructors: Modify as needed to select items used in your specific course]

  • A link to Meet / Zoom class sessions
  • A link and schedule for professors’ virtual office hours 
  • Course syllabi 
  • Links to campus resources to support student learning 
  • Readings and reading assignments 
  • Assignment descriptions
  • Assignment submission
  • Asynchronous learning activities
  • Discussion forums  
  • Grades 

You must access Moodle [INSERT: weekly/every Monday/every scheduled class session] to ensure you are aware of course expectations and weekly course activities. If you ever have questions about the course, Moodle will also contain many answers, including a way to contact your professor with questions and the schedule for virtual office hours. For technical support using Moodle, contact Information Technology Services (ITS).   

How is attendance and participation measured in an online class? 

Students' presence and insights are valued in this class. Whether in asynchronous or synchronous learning environments, your learning is impacted by your attendance and participation. You are expected to partake weekly in all synchronous and asynchronous class sessions and learning activities. If you are unable to participate due to an illness or emergency, contact your professor via email or during virtual office hours prior to any missed class sessions or learning activities.  [INSERT: Attendance policy.  Will you allow a certain amount of absences?  Will you have a penalty for missed classes or asynchronous learning activities?]

Our synchronous class sessions are enhanced by students’ insights and participation.  Ideally, students will have video-on throughout the entire class session.  If students are unable to have video-on due to connectivity issues or other concerns, please email your professor or attend a virtual office hour in order to identify another arrangement.  All students are encouraged to participate vocally or via chat throughout each class session. [INSERT: Any specific requirements related to student participation in Zoom/Meet sessions.  Should students unmute and talk freely throughout class? Do you want students to raise their hand so you can see it on screen or put a hand up in the chat feature? Can students use the chat feature during class and expect the professor is checking it and responding? Will the professor call on students and expect a response or will students mainly volunteer to speak?]

At times, students will collaborate within small groups on Zoom/Meet and in these instances, students are expected to stay on task and contribute to the group learning goals. [INSERT: Participation policy.  Will you require students to videotape small group work on Zoom/Meet?  Do you have a rubric for evaluating student participation in class?  Will participation be a part of students’ grades?]

How often will students meet synchronously for this class? 

Instruction this semester will be [INSERT: a mix of synchronous and asynchronous/primarily synchronous/primarily asynchronous].  Our synchronous sessions will be held on [INSERT: days of the week and time] at this Zoom link [INSERT: hyperlink].  The Zoom link and joining info for all class sessions is also posted at the top of our Moodle page so students can easily access this in time for class.  Look forward to seeing you! 

[Instructors: Zoom allows for 1 link to be used for every class session throughout the semester through the use of a Personal Meeting Id (PMI).  The use of 1 consistent link for all class sessions is very helpful for students.]

What can students expect in Zoom sessions? 

At IWU, professors deliver high quality instruction and the Zoom platform offers engaging ways to deeply explore [INSERT: course topic].  In class sessions, students may partake in small group discussions or problem-based learning within breakout rooms.  In these breakout rooms, students can expect to actively contribute to the group goals and stay on task throughout the small group work.  Students may also engage in whole class discussions where the class uses polls or whiteboards to share collective knowledge.  At some point during the semester, students may also lead the Zoom meeting and share their expertise in a certain area.  In each class session, students can expect to engage in course content in a meaningful way.  So come prepared by completing your readings and being ready to contribute! 


Will Zoom sessions be recorded?  

In this class, software may be used to record live class sessions. In accordance with the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute, students will be notified of class recordings. As a student in this class, your participation in live class discussions will be recorded. These recordings will be made available only to students enrolled in the class to assist those who cannot attend the live session or to serve as a resource for those who would like to review content that was presented. 

Due to learning in different time zones and other important factors, students may require flexibility for class sessions, including the need for videotaped class sessions.  If this is the case for you, please arrange a time to craft a plan with your professor about instances where you may need more flexibility or videotaped Zoom sessions. Students are responsible for requesting a videotaped class session well in advance of the synchronous class session.  48 hours notice is preferable.  

How often will students engage asynchronous for this class? 

All asynchronous learning activities will be posted on Moodle with clear directions on how students should participate.  These activities may include readings, class forums for discussion, web quests to research information, online simulations, or short activities to stimulate or apply your learning.  [INSERT: any expectations for asynchronous instruction. Will students partake in asynchronous activities on certain days or weeks throughout the semester?  Will they need to partake in asynchronous activities to prepare for synchronous class sessions?  Will students need access to any technological tools, software or websites in order to fully participate in asynchronous learning?]


How can students ask questions and connect with professors? 

Just like in-person instruction at IWU, students can expect weekly engagement with their professor.  For example, professors will hold at least 5 hours of virtual office hours, check Moodle for the link and schedule! During virtual office hours, students can drop-in at any time to ask questions or seek clarity on course content or expectations. Professors will also check email every 24 hours on Mondays-Fridays and respond as promptly as possible.  [INSERT: will you offer other modes of communication like gchat or slack?]


Where do students find and submit assignments? 

All assignment descriptions and due dates will be posted on Moodle. Students are expected to submit all assignments on Moodle.  Please do NOT submit assignments via email.  Assignments on Moodle are time stamped meaning the day and time of your submission is recorded.  Assignments submitted after the due date will be considered late. [INSERT: Policy on late assignments.  Will assignments be due by midnight on the due date or before the start of class?  What is the penalty for late assignments?  Can students ask for extensions?]

All work is expected to be original and high quality.  Students in virtual and in-person classes must complete their own work and adhere to the plagiarism policy at IWU.  


What do students need to know to be successful in this course?

[INSERT: This is a space for professors to make weekly expectations or learning routines clear to students.  Will you post a weekly checklist on Moodle for students so they know exactly what to read, do, and accomplish every week? Will you assign readings on specific days of every week and expect them read by a particular class session of the week? Do students have weekly assignments they need to submit on a certain day and time?  Do students need any particular materials to partake in Zoom meetings?  Will students use a particular software or website in your class that you could list here with clear expectations?]