SMU Instruction & Technology Readiness: Preparing for Fall 2020

Preparing for Fall 2020: Ensuring All Faculty Have the Resources for Instructional & Technology Needs to Support Multiple Teaching Modes

Thank you for all of your work over the past few months, your instructional creativity, flexibility, and service toward meeting the needs of all students during these extraordinary times continues to differentiate the SMU experience.

We know that many of you have questions about teaching in Summer 2 and in the Fall. We apologize for the length of this message, but we want to provide you as much detail as possible. While we do not have answers to all of your questions, our hope is this message provides additional clarity about the upcoming terms. Please read the entire message and reach out with any additional questions that you may have regarding instructional preparation.

As you know, the planning for a phased re-opening of SMU’s classrooms for face-to-face, in-person instruction is well underway. Every Summer 2 and Fall 2020 course will need to support SMU’s long-standing expectation for high-quality instruction with students who may be in person or remote (you might have heard this called “HyFlex” instruction; Please see EDUCAUSE’s 7 Things You Should Know About the HyFlex Course Model for a good definition of this mode).  In practical terms, HyFlex classes require the continuance of remote instruction while at the same time delivering in-person instruction—connecting the two using technology systems like Zoom and Canvas.  In order to ensure that fully online courses continue to meet the same learning goals as in-person instruction, online courses will require high standards of course materials and pedagogy.

Whether in person or online, we want to make sure that all SMU faculty have the resources— instructional and technology— to successfully teach in the new instructional world that we will enter in the weeks and months ahead.

To that end, the Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and the SMU Libraries are doing the following things:

  • Adapting and expanding instructional support
  • Conducting faculty training, coaching and learning opportunities
  • Continuing school and university-level technology and teaching support

Summer 2: What do I need to know?

Summer 2 courses will be offered HyFlex or entirely remote. Entirely remote courses should follow the same quality and consistency standards previously recommended for MayTerm and Summer 1. Individualized training, coaching, and orientation will be provided to faculty teaching HyFlex by CTE and OIT, who will contact you personally to ensure you have everything you need for a successful class. You will receive an email later this week to coordinate orientation and technical training with your school’s OIT academic technology lead.

Fall 2020: I’m teaching HyFlex: What do I need to know?

Most Fall 2020 courses will be offered in a HyFlex teaching mode where instruction is delivered simultaneously to both fully remote and in-person students.  These HyFlex courses require a careful balance of in-person instruction while ensuring an equivalent experience for online students. Beginning in early July, structured training and resources will be ready that will orient you to the new remote classroom technologies as well as how to pedagogically prepare for this unique teaching modality.

Fall 2020: I’m teaching fully online: What do I need to know?

Some Fall 2020 courses will be delivered fully online because of faculty who are in a high-risk population or other course-specific reasons. Faculty teaching fully online Fall 2020 classes will be required to successfully complete both an online teaching certification course and a Canvas LMS training course.  Additional details about these training requirements will be forthcoming after the Provost’s Office makes decisions regarding fall teaching exemptions.


To summarize, your upcoming instructional support will vary based on the mode— HyFlex or online–of your course’s delivery. The SMU Libraries, the Office of Information Technology, and the Center for Teaching Excellence are working together to develop information, training, guides, and other resources for each type of course that SMU will be offering.  No matter the mode, all courses will need to plan and prepare for remote/online students, and many of these same courses will also require planning and preparation for in-person students. Support for each type of class will be available and will cover:

  • Strategies for delivering in-person and live remote HyFlex instruction in newly remote-equipped rooms
  • Training on the use of new remote classroom technologies and devices for instruction
  • Creation and delivery of various options for remote/online assessments to both in-person and remote students
  • Use of Zoom for interacting with live students and conducting virtual office hours
  • Designing for student engagement across modalities
  • Effectively designing/leveraging a minimum Canvas course template
    • Publish online syllabus (including information about technology tools, student services, netiquette, academic integrity, and expectations for grading/response times)
    • Communicate with students using Canvas Announcements
    • Check in each weekday with all students in your course
    • Logically organize course content into Modules
    • Use the Gradebook so students can keep track of their progress
    • Easily integrate with SMU library resources
    • Assign a variety of online assessments
    • Take attendance using Canvas Role Call tool

As you continue your instructional planning, please know that all SMU faculty support offices are available and are working tirelessly to support you. Each teaching mode presents challenges and opportunities and we will continue to provide you with necessary tools and support to keep teaching and serving students both in-person/remote and fully online.

Important Resources

SMU is still in the process of reorganizing and adding content to the SMU Keep Teaching site as a one-stop-shop for resources and course tools. We will be adding new materials to this site specifically geared to inform and to assist you to navigate teaching your in-person and remote students at the same time. You will find updated information here about new remote classroom technologies as well as strategies that will help you plan activities that engage both in-person and remote learners.

SMU Libraries

Up-to-date information about collections and library services is available at All libraries will be open on July 6, 2020, with SMU ID card access except Bridwell Library, which is currently under construction.

Where Can I Get More Training?

We will continue to post information on the Keep Teaching’s Training Events page for the most up-to-date HyFlex and fully online training sessions, Q&A, and other structured faculty-centric learning opportunities. The Center for Teaching Excellence, OIT, and SMU Libraries are committed to the continuing faculty training and consultation sessions for faculty during the time ahead—and will be ramping up training sessions in early July.

Helping Coordinate Student Hardships

As much as possible, please continue communicating with your students regarding what resources they may lack to have a successful online or HyFlex experience. For example, many students may not have a device that allows them to use certain software like Lockdown Browser. Please get help from a CTE or OIT instructional designer regarding how to design modifications or make accommodations for any situation. Please send student needs or concerns, technical or otherwise, to the IT Help Desk and we will help answer or coordinate answers with the appropriate area

What about social-distancing? Mask/PPE recommendations? Other questions?

While OIT, CTE, and SMU Libraries are jointly collaborating to support your instructional preparation for the academic terms ahead, many other SMU groups are similarly working to develop clear guidelines and answer to the campus community’s unique health and safety requirements during this time. Guidelines and recommendations relating to health and safety questions are being finalized and will continue to be announced by relevant offices and committees.

College/Program Specific Assistance

In addition to the main IT Help Desk, remember these contacts for specific school or departmental guidance:

Dedman College of Arts and Sciences Faye Walter
Dedman College of Law James Pan
Meadows School of Arts Mousumi Tanha
Lyle School of Engineering Merlin Wilkerson
Simmons School of Education & Human Development Jennifer Culver
Cox School of Business Christina Churchill
Perkins School of Theology James Pan
SMU Guildhall Levi Sterling
Academic Technology Services Jason Warner

If you have any questions or need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Advanced teaching assistance and instructional design consultation is available from the Center for Teaching Excellence by contacting: For assistance with any Library needs, please access

Help and Support

The SMU IT Help Desk is available by phone at 214-768-HELP (4357) or email:, seven days a week. For hours of operation, visit In addition to our internal support, SMU provides 24/7 expanded support for both Canvas and Zoom.

Canvas: 1-844-629-6842
Zoom: 1-888-799-9666, ext 2

We have many short videos, help guides, and frequently asked questions throughout our website at but have consolidated most of the information on  SMU’s KEEP TEACHING website.

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Published by

Jason Warner

Executive Director, Academic Technology Services