On February 29th, 2020, Temple University made the difficult decision to temporarily close the Temple Rome campus in light of the evolving COVID-19 situation in Italy. All Spring 2020 students were strongly advised to leave Italy and return home, to their home institution, or to Temple University‘s main campus. However, Rome-based staff and faculty remain in the city, and instruction will continue online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
This abrupt transition to online learning will likely present some challenges and confusion to both faculty and students alike, especially in the weeks following spring break. However, please know that Temple Rome staff and faculty continue to work tirelessly on your behalf from on the ground here in Rome, and that the continuity of your academic progress is currently our #1 priority. While the second half of your semester may not be the same hands-on learning experience you’d hoped for, together we can make the best of a situation that is far from ideal.
To that end, the following guide was prepared to answer questions you might have regarding the transition to online learning and its impact on your Spring 2020 coursework. If you still have questions/concerns after reading guide below, please reach out directly to your professors (for course-specific information) or Temple Rome staff members AJ Fitzgerald and Mary Conran (for general assistance).
CANVAS | ZOOM | VOICE THREAD
MOVING TO A DISTANCE-LEARNING MODEL: WHAT TO EXPECT
In many cases, extensive changes will need to be made to your courses in order to accommodate the transition to online learning. A majority of the Temple Rome curriculum is built upon an experiential learning model, one in which students engage with their course material in a variety of hands-on ways, including cultural labs and on-site lectures throughout Rome, excursions to sites beyond city limits, seminar discussion and in-class group work, interaction with guest speakers or Italian tutors, etc.
Unfortunately, some of the hallmark features of Temple Rome‘s learning model cannot be feasibly transitioned to an online format, while others will need to be modified and transformed in order to be effectively delivered online.
In general, this is what you should expect as your coursework transitions to an online learning model:
- You will still have regularly scheduled class meetings with your professors and classmates, though not during the weeks of March 9th and March 16th. All class meetings will be held virtually via ZOOM, Temple University’s official video-conferencing platform. You can find links to your virtual class meetings on Canvas, and your professors will have the option to post recordings of these meetings online.
- Your class meeting schedule will be modified to accomodate the time difference between Rome and the United States. Of course, you will not be expected to be online at 2 AM EST in order to “attend” a class scheduled for 8 AM here in Rome. However, there are many factors to consider as we re-arrange the campus course schedule: the variety of time zones in which our students currently live (not just the 4 major time zones of the continental US, but a variety of additional time zones throughout the world), differences in the observation of Daylight Savings Time between Italy and the US, your professors’ additional professional obligations, etc. We appreciate your patience as we work through this complex puzzle!
- Your online class meetings will likely be shorter than your in-person class meetings were in Rome. For example, you may only meet live as a group once per week instead of twice, or your meeting times may be reduced. The exact changes made will vary from class to class, so please check Canvas regularly for updates from your professors. For more details regarding class meetings and contact hours in an online learning model, scroll down to sections “Credits & Contact Hours” and “Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instructional Models.”
- Any reduction in live contact hours with your professor and/or classmates will be balanced by an addition of asynchronous learning modules, materials, and activities. These may include recorded lectures posted to Canvas, online discussion threads in place of live seminar discussions, additional take home assignments in place of in-class activities, etc. Again, the exact changes will vary from course to course, so continue to check Canvas for regular updates.
For general advice and guidelines on what it takes to become an effective online learner, check out the Online Student’s Manual for Success at learnhowtobecome.org.
CREDITS & CONTACT HOURS
In accordance with policies set forth by both the US Department of Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Temple University awards academic credit in units of semester credit hours. Though academic credit values are determined using a variety of criteria, earning one semester credit hour requires the completion of approximately 1 hour per week of faculty instruction time (aka “contact hours”), plus 2 hours per week of out-of-class work.
For example, a three credit university class requires approximately 3 contact hours (2100 minutes minimum per semester) plus 6 hours of out-of-class work per week, while a four credit class requires approximately 4 contact hours (2800 minutes minimum per semester) plus 8 hours of out-of-class work per week.
In an online course, your total “instruction time” or “contact hours” may consist of the following elements:
- Online, synchronous class meetings via ZOOM.
- Online, individual meetings with your professor via ZOOM.
- Online learning modules, instructional videos, or interactive tutorials posted by your professor to Canvas.
- Virtual group discussions or other group activities with your classmates, either synchronous or asynchronous in nature.
For more information on how credit values are determined and assigned, please see the Temple University Undergraduate Bulletin.
SYNCHRONOUS VS. ASYNCHRONOUS INSTRUCTIONAL MODELS
Online courses may be delivered either synchronously or asynchronously. A synchronous instructional model is one in which students are expected to sign in for regular, live online meetings with their professor and classmates 1-2x per week. An asynchronous instructional model is one in which course lectures, instructional materials and assignments are posted online, and students complete the various modules at their own pace. However, keep in mind that while courses using an asynchronous model may not hold required live meetings, students are still expected to adhere to all relevant individual deadlines. For example, rather than having 2 class meetings per week (i.e. Tu Th from 3 – 5 PM), students in an asynchronous model might instead have 2 distinct “learning modules” to complete per week before Sunday at 11:59 PM, in addition to their regularly assigned take-home assignments.
Temple Rome is currently moving to a hybrid instructional model for the remainder of Spring 2020, in which instruction will be delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. During the weeks of March 9th and March 16th especially, instruction will be largely asynchronous. While professors may hold live online sessions for their classes during this time, live “attendance” of these online sessions will not yet be mandatory. Digital recordings of all such sessions during this period will be posted to Canvas in case you are unable to attend, and students may be asked to complete at-home assignments and/or online group activities in lieu of their regularly scheduled classes.
Mandatory online course meetings will begin the week of March 23rd. A new course schedule is currently being determined to account for the time difference between Italy and the various time zones inhabited by our students, and will be announced in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please check Canvas regularly for announcements regarding updated course requirements, assignment deadlines, etc.
*Special note regarding time zones: The United States begins Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 8th, whereas Italy does not begin Daylight Savings Time until Sunday, March 29th. The time difference between Rome and Philadelphia (EST) during this time frame is only 5 hours, instead of the usual 6.*
ACADEMIC SUPPORT SERVICES
The Rome-based Academic Support Center (ASC) will continue to provide services to all Temple Rome students, regardless of where in the world you intend to finish the semester. To learn more about how services will be affected by the transition to online learning, or to make your virtual appointment, please visit the ASC‘s web page by clicking the link below:
In addition, the Italian Help Desk program will continue to operate on a virtual basis. Details are still being finalized, but check the Italian Help Desk web page for updates on how to make your online appointment with the Rome-based Italian tutors.
In addition to virtual appointments with the Rome-based ASC and Italian Help Desk, all Temple Rome students are also eligible to access Temple University‘s Student Success Center and Career Center services. The Student Success Center offers services such as:
Meanwhile, the Career Center offers the following services:
For Temple Rome students not returning to Philadelphia this semester, the Student Success Center also offers online appointments for certain services, and the Career Center offers appointments by phone.
All Temple University Rome students should already be familiar with the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). You can access your Canvas account through TU Portal, or by signing in with your TU credentials at the link below:
All official Rome campus and course announcements will be exclusively communicated through the Canvas platform for the remainder of Spring 2020. New assignments, learning materials, ZOOM recordings, etc. will also be posted to your individual Canvas course sites. Make sure to update your Canvas notification settings so that you don’t miss any announcements, messages, or new assignment deadlines between now and the end of the semester. If you haven’t already, you may also consider downloading the Canvas Student app to your mobile device from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. A Canvas quick reference guide for students is available online here.
If you have any difficulty accessing course materials on Canvas, please contact your professor directly. If the problem persists, please feel free to reach out to Temple Rome staff members AJ Fitzgerald or Mary Conran for further assistance.
ZOOM is Temple University‘s official video-conferencing provider, having replaced WebEx in Fall 2019. While other video call and video conferencing applications may be available to students through their TU account (including Google Hangouts Meet, Skype, etc.), ZOOM will be used for all official course meetings and recordings for the duration of the semester. ZOOM offers a variety of features useful for the online classroom environment, including screen sharing, a virtual whiteboard, breakout groups, built-in recording, and more.
Students should be able to access links for their ZOOM class meetings and recordings directly in their individual course sites on Canvas. If you’d like to access your ZOOM account directly, for example to schedule a 1-1 video meeting with a professor or classmate, you may do so by following the link below. Keep in mind that ZOOM’s web client may work better in Google Chrome than in competing browsers.
In order to make best use of all the features ZOOM has to offer, you will need to download the ZOOM desktop client (available for Mac OS and Windows) or mobile application (available for iOS and Android) to a device with a functioning webcam and microphone. To sign into ZOOM on your computer or mobile device for the first time, make sure to click “SIGN IN WITH SSO” and then type “temple.zoom.us” as your organization’s domain. From there you should be able to sign in with your regular TU ID and password.
Voice Thread is a cloud-based application that allows users to upload multimedia files (documents, slideshows, audio files, videos, etc.) to a shared classroom environment. Before completing the upload, you’ll be given the option to add text, voice or video overlays to your file or slideshow. Once online, your professor and classmates will be able to add multimedia comments of their own to the Voice Thread, either in response to the original file upload or to previously posted comments.
Thanks to its rich variety of features, Voice Thread is a useful tool for cultivating online, asynchronous discussions between classmates. Your professors may decide to use it to create interactive video lectures and discussions in place of synchronous web meetings, or to replace certain assignments such as in-class presentations, etc. Voice Thread is integrated directly with Canvas, so you’ll be able to easily access and create Voice Threads from within you individual course Canvas sites.