We appreciate that fall GSIs are experiencing a great deal of uncertainty about the rules and parameters surrounding their fall teaching. Your department chair, GSAO, and Faculty Advisor for GSI Affairs are the people best able to answer your instructional questions. But we understand there are some global issues of concern, four of which we answer here:
GSIs are concerned about remote instruction leading to increased workloads. What should GSIs do in that instance?
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.
What will the attendance policy be in the fall?
More guidance from campus will be forthcoming in mid to late July. A current summary of campus guidelines may be found here. In essence, we are urging instructors not to penalize students for non-attendance given the many factors outside their control that may affect their ability to attend class.
What are the campus guidelines regarding student privacy in remote learning environments?
It will be key for all courses to have clear privacy guidelines laid out up front. From a FERPA perspective, the disclosure of the recording (just to the other members of the course) is permitted (without obtaining the students’ consent) under the “legitimate educational interest” exception.
Instructors therefore should:
- notify the students via the syllabus/course materials that the sessions will be recorded and only shared with other students in the course;
- verbally inform them at the start of each session that it will be recorded;
- permit students to mute their audio during the recordings;
- permit students to not use the video functionality; and
- disable cloud recording functionality
It might also be a good idea to suggest to students who are uncomfortable with their voices being recorded that they use the private chat function to ask questions of the instructor. The chat transcripts are separate from the audio/video recording. The instructor can also stop the recording if a student expresses the desire to communicate confidentially, and then restart it when that communication is completed.
What are the campus guidelines regarding synchronous vs. asynchronous instruction?
The decision regarding the proportion of course instruction that should be synchronous versus asynchronous should be made by the instructor of record in consultation with their GSIs. As with the attendance policy, we ask that GSIs not penalize students if they cannot participate in synchronous activities (due to time zone differences and/or other issues) and work with their instructors and fellow GSIs to develop alternative ways to provide learning opportunities for those students.
We realize this is a challenging time for GSIs and for students. As best we can, we will keep you informed and communicate any additional guidance that will be useful to you.