On Tuesday, March 9, Stan State’s Academic Senate held its fourth meeting of the spring 2021 semester. The meeting consisted of ongoing conversations about the fall 2021 semester, Blackboard no longer being used moving forward, the introduction of Ethnic Studies being a requirement for general education, and much more.
What’s New for the Fall 2021 Semester
Since the last Academic Senate meeting, the effort to get students back into in-person classes next fall is still in the works. This will all depend on the number of COVID-19 cases. The Academic Senate did confirm that the meetings going into the fall 2021 semester will continue to be through Zoom. If anything is to change, they will update the board.
While many ideas were discussed, the senate decided that they would have to plan accordingly due to the fluctuation of cases and to determine if it would be ideal to get some students back to campus when that time is closer.
Provost Kimberly Greer gave further updates about fall 2021 later in the meeting. While discussing what classes will be held face-to-face, they realized that there will be more classrooms available than what was originally intended.
“We believe that we’ll actually have more spaces than we have courses, so it may be possible to have other suggestions from other faculty if they would like to propose a course to be taught face-to-face as well,” Greer said.
She then discussed possibly using these spaces as extra study spaces for students in between classes. While we stay in the higher tiers of COVID, we may use the event center as an area for study spaces since it is a larger building. The library is also receiving indications that there will be study spaces to use within the building.
Greer stated multiple times throughout her announcements that these plans are prone to change and will be flexible when need be. Once fall 2021 has a solid plan, they will begin planning for spring 2022 immediately afterwards, especially when vaccines are more widely available. This could open up more opportunities and possibly bring events back to campus.
Blackboard's Availability After Spring 2021 Semester
The Academic Senate also discussed that Stanislaus will no longer use Blackboard as an online learning management system after the spring 2021 semester. Going into the fall 2021 semester the only learning management systems that will be used are Canvas and Moodle. Canvas is officially replacing Blackboard, and Moodle will continue to be used by the professors that prefer this platform.
Worries from professors and faculty about making the transition to Canvas from Blackboard were talked about throughout the meeting. There were worries of losing files that professors had saved and not being able to switch them to Canvas. There will be videos and guides sent out to staff and faculty in the case that they have any confusion while making the switch.
The switch to Canvas was first introduced in the summer of 2020 and was used alongside Blackboard. Professors were able to choose to work with either Blackboard or Canvas. This was done for people to get used to the platform and have an understanding of how it works.
Unit Policy Change in the Works
University Educational Policies Committee (UEPC) Chair Cathlin Davis proposed to resolve an issue with the policy that students need to have 60 credits completed before taking an upper division general education course.
“We as a campus have always said in the past that you should be in the semester when you are reaching the 60 units.” With the policy change, “In order to receive upper GE credit, students must have completed 45 units at the time of registration," Davis stated.
This means that students should have at least three semesters completed and will be beginning their major. UEPC discussed that the previous process was putting too much work on students and the enrollment office. This also makes the catalog language clear to those reading it.
Ethnic Study Course Becoming a Requirement Come Fall 2021
While going over reports, Davis also discussed the importance of adjusting the requirements that pertained to Ethnic Studies. Come fall 2021, an Ethnic Studies course will be required as part of the general education courses. It is still being worked on to decide how the Ethnic Study requirement is included.
The next Academic Senate meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 23 from 2 to 4 p.m.