David E. Van Zandt, President and Tim Marshall, Provost
November 3, 2012
We hope you are faring well and are returning to some sense of normalcy following last week’s storm. Our sympathy goes out to those who have suffered considerable inconvenience or hardship. Please let us know how you are doing. Many faculty members, especially those who live in Manhattan and were able to get to campus, have reached out to ask how they can help. Thank you!
As you have learned from the New School Alert earlier this afternoon, we are planning to re-open for classes on Monday. In a discussion with the deans, vice presidents, heads of various operational areas, and our UFS and USS representatives, the consensus was that people are ready to re-focus on teaching and learning, and that our community will benefit from getting back to the routines of university life.
It would be a stretch to say we expect next week to be “business as usual,” however. The coming days will require patience and flexibility on everyone’s part. Please review the FAQ posted here to understand the status of campus facilities and services as well as other practical concerns.
Obviously faculty are concerned about issues of student attendance and lateness next week. We are encouraging students to make their best efforts to return to school. At the same time, we need to be flexible and patient as public transit gets back up to speed and people work through ongoing storm-related issues. Faculty will need to find ways to ensure that every student has both the full opportunity and the responsibility to complete coursework and meet academic requirements.
We recognize that faculty will have the same transportation challenges, so communication will be key. Please be in touch with your department chairs, program directors, or dean's office to let them know if you anticipate being unable to get to campus. Each divisional dean or director will determine the protocol that works best in the division. Given the extra time and effort many students will need to get to school, please also communicate with them with as much notice as possible if you are unable to get to your scheduled class. Use multiple means: email, Blackboard, text messages, etc., to ensure that all students receive the message.
Another issue for faculty members and students is the question of how to make up lost course time. We have announced that the current semester will end when originally planned, in part because students (particularly those whose homes are outside the United States) have already made plans based on that schedule. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity.
Creative pedagogy has been a theme in discussions with faculty for quite some time. We have encouraged faculty to consider ways of extending the New School tradition of innovation in their teaching. Many are already exploring and utilizing approaches that go beyond the traditional structures. The silver lining in our current situation (if it can be called that) is that we now have a need to be even more expeditious and creative in these efforts.
We will rely on and trust in your creativity and good judgment to help students complete their academic work, though we will provide guidance and support. You might consider various forms of e-learning, video conferencing or teleconferencing, blogs, collaborative projects on evenings or weekends, or sessions that can be shared by two classes. You do not need to make up the lost time immediately or adhere to narrow definitions of classroom time, but you will need to adjust your semester plan to ensure that all students receive as best as possible the full content and experience promised on the syllabus for each course.
Fellow faculty members can be a great resource for sharing and collaborating on approaches. Blackboard and other technology can also help. A new Blackboard site will appear in Instructors' My Courses list on Monday. It will have simple guidelines and suggestions for using educational technology as well as a discussion board. Distributed Education staff will be available next week from 8:00 am until 7:00 pm each day at 71 Fifth Avenue/9th Floor to provide support on a drop-in basis. Or feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org, or at extension 212-229-8947 ext. 4463.
You may find that it is prudent to adjust due dates and the timing of exams as well as the format and mode of conducting them. Here, too, we rely on your judgment. If adjusting due dates is the reasonable thing to do, helps avoid creating undo stress for students, and can be done without unduly compromising the content or learning experience, please do so. Your program director, department chair, or dean can offer guidance and advice about this or any other matter.
Thank you for your commitment and patience as we go through this period of adjustment.