For Students: Ensuring Quality Learning Experiences for Fall

July 7, 2020 @  3:34 p.m.

Dear Students,

We’re so excited to welcome you back to CU Denver next month. We’re also acutely aware that the fall semester will be unlike any we’ve ever known.

Over the past couple of months, our faculty and staff have been working hard to create a flexible course schedule, safe campus environment, robust student services both virtual and in person, and engaging student life activities that meet your needs. Whether you plan on attending virtually, in person, or a little of both, we have a great semester planned for you.

Since we last communicated about our course formats, all students received a survey and many of you responded with your preferences for courses and student services. Some students are excited to return to campus while many others plan to continue their education and engagement with student services from a distance. In whatever format your classes are taught, you will experience exceptional courses offered by outstanding faculty.

Course Formats and Schedule
As we promised last month, we’re writing today to let you know that the course formats and schedule have, for the most part, been finalized. The schedule thoughtfully balances many competing demands while adhering to public health guidance on the number of people who can be on campus at one time.

We’re pleased to let you know that we have been able to accommodate over 700 courses for on-campus or hybrid instruction and approximately 2,100 courses either remotely or online. For our remote and online offerings, individual emails were sent to the students in the courses that have been changed. For our on campus and hybrid courses, the individual emails will be sent soon.

You may also see the course format for the courses you have scheduled by reviewing the Mode and location information on your currently scheduled course in UCDAccess. If the class Mode is On-Campus or Hybrid, the Bldg/Room on your schedule will reflect a physical location on campus. If the class Mode is Remote or Online, the Bldg/Room will reflect “Remote” or “Online.”

Please note that there may be circumstances beyond our control that require us to make additional changes to course formats and locations. Should that occur, we will send a communication to the students enrolled in the course that has changed. It is also good practice to check your schedule periodically in UCDAccess.

How Course Formats Were Determined
You may have questions about why a specific course format was changed. Below are many of the factors that we considered when making those decisions.

Meeting Social Distancing Requirements
Social distancing constraints–mapping six feet of distancing from person to person within the recommended 48 square feet per person–required us to develop new capacities for all classrooms, studios, labs, performance spaces, computer labs, and common areas. This reduced the functional capacity of our classrooms significantly. For instance, one classroom with an enrollment capacity of 95 students is now safe for 18 students plus the instructor.

Prioritizing Courses to Return to Campus
With a now-reduced classroom capacity, not all courses can return to campus. We prioritized courses for returning to campus that required specialized environments and equipment, and high-touch opportunities. Prioritized courses included studios, labs, performance and experiential courses, first-year experience courses, core courses, and first-year graduate courses.

Getting Creative to Foster Student Success
Faculty assessed the course content and desired student learning outcomes, using student preference information and the priority guidelines for on-campus courses. They worked with staff and administrators to select the appropriate format to provide the highest-quality teaching and learning environments needed to support student success for each course, factoring in the reduced classroom functional capacities.

Faculty have devised strategies including: adding more sections, changing course meeting patterns, and splitting classes into smaller sections. For instance, because studios and labs and other specialized learning environments could hold only a few students at a time, new sections of these courses have been opened at different times when the space was available, including evenings and Fridays. At other times, courses have been split into smaller sections. 

Faculty have also developed cohort strategies. For instance, students are divided into two groups for an on-campus course that meets two times a week (Monday/Wednesday). Group A meets on Monday while group B joins via Zoom or online and Group B meets on Wednesday with group A joining via Zoom or online.

Additional Supports
We are also taking a number of actions to further support your success in each of these formats.

  • Improving the technology in many classrooms so that you can access the course via Zoom if you cannot come to campus. 
  • Identifying Student Landing Zones where you can access technology, study and work in between classes, or Zoom in to remote or online classes. 
  • Including a Canvas shell for all courses, which will provide structured continuity in case the pandemic results in a return to all-online and remote instruction during the fall semester.
  • Hundreds of faculty have been participating in a number of trainings over the summer on effective teaching methods for the delivery of courses in online, remote and hybrid formats. 

We’re in This Together
These are unprecedented times that call for unprecedented solutions. While we continue to operate amid great uncertainty, we are confident that each CU Denver student can have an engaging fall 2020 semester. We are here to support you! Please join us for a Fall 2020 Information Webinar next Tuesday, July 14, from 3-4:30 p.m. A panel of experts will answer your questions about classes, safety protocols, student life, support services, student housing and dining, and more. You can submit your questions in advance or during the session. Space is limited so please register in advance. We hope that you can join us!

Your Safe Return Team, 

Kelly Hupfeld 
Associate Dean, School of Public Affairs

Carrie John
Associate Vice Chancellor and University Registrar

Alana Jones 
Interim Vice Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor of Student Success

Paul Teske 
Dean, School of Public Affairs

CMS Login