Course Outlines: A Fall 2020 Update

As the fall semester quickly approaches, I’ve been spending as much of my time as possible getting my fall courses organized. Over the past month, most of that time has been focused on the content of the course – what to cover, when to cover it, and how best to deliver it to the students in an online format. Through that process I’ve been continually updating my course outlines. Today I’m happy to present the most recent drafts for both CIS3750 and CIS4020.

Why am I presenting draft outlines today? Well, mostly I want to give the students in these courses as much information in advance as I possibly can. I hope that this will help alleviate any of the anxieties that they might be facing about the way the courses will be delivered. While these are still in draft form, I don’t think much will be changed aside from perhaps fixing any typos, or clarifying things that might need to be clarified. Of course, I reserve the right to change things between now and the beginning of class. If I do, I will be sure to communicate those changes and why I’m making them.

In addition to what’s listed in the course outlines, I’ve also moved a few things that I’ve normally included in them to the top of the course website. This includes information on our class code of conduct, as well as language about the University of Guelph’s academic integrity and accessibility policies. 

A few years ago, I also began inserting a policy on children in the classroom that I modified from something I found on Twitter. You can find the current version below, which I have updated for online learning. I pulled this out of the course outline and moved it to the course website because I want students who have children at home to see the policy every time they sign in to the course website. As someone without children, I don’t understand what raising them is like, but it’s very clear that the pandemic has made it infinitely more challenging. With that in mind, I want any student in any of my courses who are taking care of children to know that I’m more than open to working around whatever schedule disruptions they have this semester due to caregiving. 

This goes the same for any student who might need to take care of aging parents or sick roommates, partners, or dependents. 

As I’ve said previously, this semester is going to be different – but different doesn’t have to be bad. I hope by sharing these outlines with students today, we can start the semester with empathy and patience, ready to learn, and ready to help each other.

Stay safe!


Policy on Children in the Class

Currently, the University of Guelph (as far as I know) does not have a formal policy on children in the classroom. The policy described here is just a reflection of my own beliefs and commitments to student, staff, and faculty parents. Note – for the upcoming semester, our classroom includes any and all online interactions that we have.

  • All breastfeeding or bottle fed babies are welcome in class as often as is necessary.
  • For older children and babies, I understand that unforeseen disruptions in childcare often put parents in the position of having to miss class to stay home with a child. While this is not meant to be a long-term childcare solution, bringing a child to class to cover gaps in care is perfectly acceptable. Given the pandemic, this is likely the only option you have. That’s okay. Please feel comfortable bringing your child to class whenever is necessary.
  • I ask that all students work with me to create a welcoming environment that is respectful of all forms of diversity, including diversity in parenting status.
  • In all cases where babies and children come to class, I ask that you sit close to the door so that if your little one needs special attention and is disrupting learning for other students, you may step outside until their need has been met. In an online setting, please mute your microphone unless we are having a discussion or you have a question. If your little one has been paying attention and has a question, feel free to let them ask.
  • Finally, I understand that often the largest barrier to completing your coursework once you become a parent is the tiredness many parents feel in the evening once children have finally gone to sleep. While I maintain the high expectations for all students in my classes regardless of parenting status, I am happy to problem-solve with you in a way that makes you feel supported as you strive for school-parenting balance

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