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Instruction and Academic Advising

For Faculty/Staff Instructors and All Academic Advisors

As we work to transition courses and advising activities to an online modality, we want you to keep several items and expectations in mind:
  • ADVISING AND REGISTRATION – All faculty and professional advisors should move their advising activities to a remote delivery method immediately.  Students can be advised via email, telephone, text, or video conferencing (WebEx), and should be strongly encouraged to register for summer and fall courses as usual.  Be mindful of FERPA compliance issues when engaging in advising activities, including conducting all advising sessions in a private setting, and do your best to stay positive with your students.  If you need assistance learning how to conduct a WebEx session, there is information on the instructional resource site to support you, and we have some volunteers from IT on our Extended Support Team (see attached) who are willing to coach you through it.
  • INSTRUCTION – All faculty and staff who are teaching courses should be in contact with their students via email or Blackboard about how you will move your course online by MONDAY, MARCH 23.  Include basic expectations like the times when students are expected to participate in the course, how faculty will be available to discuss the course (e.g., times and methods of virtual office hours, etc.), the methods of communication and content delivery that will be used for instruction, how students should get started in the new delivery mode (i.e., what to do first), and tips about how to be successful in the new delivery mode for the course.  If using WebEx technology to meet students in or out of class, be sure to outline how that should occur.  Use the attached (fillable) document as a guide for your communication.  It is acceptable to simply fill in the guide and distribute it to students for each course, if you wish.
    • A large number of resources about how to navigate Blackboard as an instructor (including tutorial videos), pedagogical considerations and tips for online teaching, and ways to meet with students for class, office hours, or group work via video conferencing (i.e., WebEx) have been prepared for you.  These can be accessed directly from the portal, or through the following this link - Online Teaching Resources
    • The Office of Distance Education and Instructional Design (DEID) will repeat a series of webinars about transitioning your courses to online on Friday, March 20.  Join these webinars by clicking the links below:
    • The staff in DEID will be available to assist faculty in their preparations between 8am-8pm on weekdays, even if the University is operating on fewer office hours, over (at least) the next two weeks.  If you need support you can -
      • Call (606) 783-2140, email, or email/call a DEID staff member directly to request support via telephone, a private video conference (WebEx) or face-to-face appointment
      • Drop in to the Instructional Technology Center (1st floor of the library in the Commons toward the back), on days when campus facilities are open to employees, for in-person support from a DEID staff member
      • Contact one of the many faculty/staff who are expert Blackboard users who have volunteered to serve on our Extended Support Team – list attached.  And, be sure to thank them for their willingness to serve!
      • Watch for email messages from the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) with support articles about online teaching from Daryl Privott
      • Ask your colleagues who are experts/veterans in online teaching for guidance
    • The Tutoring and Learning Center will continue to offer individual and group tutoring via video conferencing (WebEx).  Your students can visit for more information, and to sign up for a tutoring session.
    • The circumstances we are facing moving courses and all students to an online format are unprecedented, and there will be hiccups on both sides of the equation.  Please be lenient in your use of assignment deadlines as we proceed, especially this first week in the new modality.  Students are working out access and equipment issues, and many of them also will be traveling back to MSU this week to move out of their residence halls while trying to juggle their course work.  It will be important to allow them the flexibility to handle these matters under difficult and stressful conditions.  In addition, please relax your course policies around excused student “absences.”  Guidance from health departments, government officials, and the CDC directs that individuals who are sick or who they believe have been in contact with someone who has the coronavirus COVID-19 are to call a physician first or to see their healthcare provider through telemedicine.  Without an office visit it will be almost impossible for students to obtain a doctor’s note that they could turn in for an excused absence, and we should not penalize students in such cases. 
      [Note:  students with access issues or those without access to a computer can contact for assistance.]
    • Because students in full-semester courses who are considering whether to drop a class or not will be newly placed into the online environment just prior to the scheduled course drop date, we have decided to push that date back a bit.  The new course drop date for Spring 2020 full-semester courses will be April 10.  There will be no changes to the full-withdrawal deadline, and no changes to drop dates for half-semester courses.
We appreciate everything you are doing during this challenging time.  Taking care of students is what we do best.  But, don’t forget to take care of yourselves through this, too.  If you need support that isn’t covered here, please reach out to the Office of Undergraduate Education & Student Success (783-2003 or or to Laurie Couch at  We’ll do everything we can to make our transition to online as smooth as possible in these unprecedented times.