SMU Instruction & Technology Readiness: Preparing for Fall 2020

On Track for Fall 2020: Unprecedented Faculty Response to Fully Online & SMUFlex Instruction & Technology Readiness

Dear SMU Faculty,

Into this second week of July, we recognize the unprecedented effort and long hours that you are contributing toward Fall 2020 instructional readiness.  I’m pleased to report high levels of enrollments and participation in the Online Teaching and Canvas technology courses which are being expertly facilitated by SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and Office of Information Technology (OIT).  Over 120 faculty have already completed at least one of these two online courses in this first week!  Nicely done!  In addition to those making online preparations, some faculty are right now successfully teaching again on campus in classrooms equipped with new “SMUFlex” remote technology and their experiences are helping shape and improve support resources as we re-open our classrooms just next month.

Faculty Feedback – Real-time Course Improvements:

Whether you are preparing to teach fully online or in-person (SMUFlex) this fall, there is no question that your course planning requires some level of delivery modification due to COVID-19.  As OIT/CTE support you through fully online readiness courses or help prepare you for SMUFlex instruction—your constructive feedback continues to be invaluable for improving both our courses for those teaching fully online and our design and configuration of SMUFlex teaching spaces.  Here are some examples of real-time improvements we’ve made in the last week based on your feedback:

  • Immediately removed Lockdown Browser requirement for course quizzes for smoother/faster overall course progression
  • Removed the time limits on course quizzes to allow more time/grace in completion
  • Added “test out” option to Canvas technology course to help already experienced Canvas users save time
  • Revised wording of course questions that some found confusing/unclear
  • Added links of information to improve course flow and clarification of certain elements
  • improved directions to some activities for more clarity

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

Last week, SMU launched the pair of readiness courses for faculty that are approved to teach fully online.  If you are approved to teach online this fall, simply log into Canvas and accept the course invitations to get started.  If you have any questions about the courses, please contact SMU’s main IT Help Desk at or 214.768.HELP .

These courses are open to all faculty, not just those approved to teach fully online.  The courses focus on both online teaching pedagogy as well as technical and practical skills application.  While approximately half of the course content consists of instruction and assessment, the other half is spent working in an actual Fall 2020 online course. We’re happy to answer any questions about the courses, the delivery technology, and can help if you get stuck.  Naturally, we must encourage you to get started and not wait until the last minute.  Your OIT/CTE support partners are here to help you every step of the way!

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

Most Fall 2020 courses will be offered on campus in our unique SMUFlex teaching mode, where instruction will be delivered simultaneously to both fully remote and in-person students aided by new remote classroom technology.  SMUFlex courses require instructional planning to both in-person students and students who are entirely remote.  Beginning in July, specific new on-site SMUFlex room orientations, faculty guides, and teaching resources will be released that will help you prepare for the new remote classroom technologies as well as how to pedagogically prepare for this unique teaching modality.

Coming Soon
Upcoming Support Events & Resources

In addition to the July fully online course programs, stay tuned for even more resources and support events to assist you in preparing for Fall 2020 instruction:

  • August – Virtual Conference/Workshop Series: Teaching & Technology:  Similar to the virtual conference hosted in May, we will host an online conference of faculty-led workshops about teaching and technology.  We will feature curricula for faculty at all levels of online teaching experience from beginning to advanced—and we will also offer several tracks based on how you will be teaching and testing students in the fall.
  • July—Reorganized and relaunch of resource website.  A newly reorganized teaching portal will feature new resources for online testing, academic integrity, and information specific to online and SMUFlex teaching.
  • July/August—Schedule of SMUFlex new classroom technology orientations and training.  As finishing touches to new classroom technologies are completed, your college’s Academic Technology Service Director will be scheduling in-person SMUFlex classroom demonstrations for you to prepare for and practice using the new tools.

Is Canvas required?

Going back to April of 2020, the Provost’s Office has recommended that all faculty utilize minimum Canvas course elements to improve the quality and consistency of student experiences.  Minimum Canvas course elements include:

  • Creation and delivery plan for fully online assessments to both in-person and remote students
  • Use of Zoom for interacting with live students and conducting virtual office hours
  • 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

College/Program Specific Assistance:

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

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

Jason Warner
Executive Director, Academic Technology Services

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Jason Warner

Associate CIO, Academic Technology Services