Jackson State utilizes a hybrid approach, integrating face-to-face and online course instructional delivery. In cases where we may have face-to-face instructional delivery, we adhere to all university, state, and federal guidelines for health and safety. Our blended delivery model prioritizes active learning and gatekeeper courses to be offered in person and for limited lecture courses to be offered based on classroom availability to support social distancing.
Delivery of the Courses
To prepare for the 2021 academic year, we considered all of the feedback received from surveys, emails, the Faculty and Staff Senates, other universities, and several stakeholders. We also assessed guidance from our Mississippi Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. The health and safety of us all is our priority. Below is our framework for instruction.
Here are the delivery options to be employed this semester:
Face-to-face: The instructor and students are physically in a room together during the class.
Hybrid: Some instructional content is delivered using technology and there are a few instances where students and faculty have face-to-face interaction.
Remote: The instructor and students are not physically together during the class. The instructor will use asynchronous and synchronous components for the course.
Online: The instructor and students accomplish all aspects of the course without any face-to-face interaction. The content of the course is delivered using technology.
Each academic program director evaluated existing classroom space and determined how many face-to-face classes will be offered in the Spring 2021 semester. Using recommendations from the state, we reduced capacity by 75% to comply with all distancing guidelines. The reduction in standard capacity means that a classroom with a standard size of 40 people now has a reduced capacity of 10 people. The JSU Online and our Information Technology teams are prepared to assist faculty members who want to do live webcasting from their offices or classrooms. The hybrid and online forms of instructional delivery will be used in several academic programs. The revised schedules will reflect the student demand, faculty preparation, and university guidelines.
Mid-Semester Course Assessment
We will conduct a mid-course assessment to evaluate the online experiences and provide an opportunity to pivot as we listen to the instructor’s voice and the learner. It is not always easy to translate a traditional face-to-face experience; however, using periodic assessment is an essential part of our commitment to learning. We will make changes to improve our instructional delivery during the semester.
Everyone is expected to display their JSU ID card, wear a mask, engage in social distancing, and any other guidelines promoting health and safety. Physical and wearable barriers may be used to support our social and physical distancing guidelines. Students who attend any on-campus sessions will have assigned seating to improve our tracing program. Students and faculty can request online delivery accommodations to promote the safety of employees and students.
Virtual meetings are the preferred method for setting appointments with professors and researchers. In-person advising and office hours are strongly discouraged. Thesis and dissertation defense meetings will continue as virtual meetings. The use of in-person experiences is reserved for unique active learning experiences, first-year courses, research experiences, and other clinics/internship/field experiences required for timely progress to graduation. The library will be OPEN for scholarly work. Students using library resources are expected to adhere to all guidelines, including wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing. We will also offer opportunities for students to use computer labs, provided our conditions remain safe.
Faculty and administrators will collaborate on a safe research continuity plan, ensuring researchers adhere to best practices in safe research settings. Researchers will review the revised safety protocol and redesign spaces aligned with the guidelines. We understand the value of researcher-student experiences and wish to resume our active research projects.
We will continue to distribute best practices to our students about expectations in the Spring 2021 environment and specific guidance on what it will take to succeed this semester. Messaging will speak to the device or computer requirements. Several courses will use advanced software, and students are not advised to use smartphones to complete their work. Other departments are using online textbooks and want students to know about accessing educational materials on the first day of class. We want our students to understand expectations before the semester begins.
Our plans may be subject to change, as we understand the unpredictability of the situation. Responding to our capabilities, the university mission, and the realities of our current situation, university plans will adhere to city and state guidelines. The goal is to offer a quality learning experience. Each college is designing a learning environment reflective of our commitment to student success, degree completion, and active learning. Our strategy is to maintain a healthy and safe environment while promoting our tradition as a creative, scholarly, and nurturing community.