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Preparation is the Key to a Successful Semester

Students move through the Talley Student Center on the first spring-like day of 2021. Photo by Becky Kirkland.

Welcome to a new academic year at NC State! This past year and a half has been a tectonic plate shift for all of us as we have adapted to teaching, learning and working remotely. While we collectively experienced a pandemic, we were differently equipped to deal with the crisis, and each of us was impacted in different ways. As with any year in one’s life, there was love and laughter; heartache and loss. There were lessons learned, things we want to keep, and things we want to throw away. As we literally step back onto the classic bricks that adorn our campus, some of us for the first time in over a year, I think it’s important to acknowledge that our community has different emotions and comfort levels about being back, and this is a time for us to be especially patient and kind to each other.

As you prepare for the start of the fall 2021 semester, we invite you to think about what you wish to keep and let go as you step back into the classroom (whether face-to-face or online). Think about the types of technologies and practices that you want to continue to use and adapt for your courses in whatever in-person, blended or online mode you use this fall. Something I really learned more about during the pandemic, even as an experienced online instructor, was to make the student schedule more flexible, so they could work ahead for individual work, and have a grace period around assignment and quiz submission. That choice helped my students, who had a few additional days to flex their schedule (I call it Life Flex Scheduling), and helped me because I wasn’t having to go in and reset Moodle to allow a student to take a quiz or submit an assignment two days past due date. DELTA’s Faculty Fellows have also shared some of the thoughts they have about returning to in-person teaching this fall, and I would encourage you to read about those. A few of the increased technology uses we observed over the past year include using Zoom for office hours, enabling a communication backchannel for students during class, and, if in a lecture capture classroom, recording lectures for your current students to review. I would also suggest being prepared with an academic continuity plan for your course *just in case* we find our instructional plans for the fall disrupted (even with vaccinations available, I’ll be honest and say I am a bit nervous about the recent trend of increasing COVID cases . . . so I think “be prepared” has to be our motto).

Whatever you decide is best for your instructional needs, DELTA is here to help! While DELTA is under new leadership and has an updated name, we are still the same DELTA, here to help you leverage academic technologies to support the best instructional practices for your course.

You probably know about Moodle and Zoom, and if you did not already try out these other tools in the past year, we have additional tools that may help you, including:

  • WolfWare Google Groups (provides email lists for your courses and more)
  • Top Hat (a BYOD solution to conduct classroom polls and real-time assessments)
  • Gradescope (an online tool to efficiently administer and grade assessments), and
  • Panopto (a platform to create, manage, and share video content for courses).

We continue to offer a variety of faculty services, including one-on-one instructional consultations and hands-on workshops to help you use technology effectively in any environment. In addition to consultations, a popular service is our faculty help desk ( there to assist you nearly every day of the week, including on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

We can discuss a range of teaching and learning technology options with you; from helping you reimagine your face-to-face class in a way that allows you to blend both online and face-to-face teaching techniques in your course, to guide you through the steps of creating an entirely online course. We can brainstorm ideas with you on how multiple content delivery modes can enhance your course, and help you create (or enhance) your plan for instructional continuity if face-to-face classes are canceled. We can also help you design alternative assessments, and provide guidance on creating online content that can be accessed by all your students, including those with hearing and visual impairments.

In addition to our training and support staff, we have instructional design and multimedia experts who can help you provide your content to students in new and engaging ways. This fall, DELTA is offering DELTA Express Grants, and the fall semester RFP window is August 2 through August 13. We hope you’ll consider working with us in one of three categories; Virtual Tours, Instructional Tools or Rapid (Course) Design.

We love to work with instructors and want to help you support the success of your students, and especially during this trying time for all of us, we are interested in helping you continue to teach your class even if it is not what you imagined it would be like this fall. Please reach out to us if we can be of assistance thinking through and implementing academic technologies in your course. We will do our absolute best to listen to your needs and concerns, to respect and engage with you, and to help you create the best teaching and learning environment possible.

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