Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom sent students an update on the fall semester. Let’s spend a week going through it.

An increasing number of faculty members (more than half so far) have informed us that they plan to teach remotely this fall. Some faculty may decide to switch from hybrid teaching to a remote-only option after pre-registration—or even after the semester begins—so please be aware that course modalities are subject to change, and students may find that some or all of their courses are remote.

We discussed this last month, but I want more details. Recall:

Some faculty members have raised the concern that requiring hybrid courses might discourage faculty from choosing to teach in person. “My strong preference all along has been to teach in-person,” Associate Professor of Political Science Justin Crowe ’03 said. “But the insistence on hybridity for all courses has me resigned to teaching remotely.” He explained, “To have the College compound the extra health risk of in-person teaching with extra workload — and the hybridity requirements are a substantial amount of extra work for anyone who chooses to teach in person — is disappointing.”

Though Crowe acknowledged that some students would need to continue remote learning regardless, he said the presence of other faculty who were already planning to teach remotely would provide “a decent number of courses for remote students to take.” Crowe added, “On an institutional level, I know there are lots of moving parts and conflicting interests, but it seems odd, given the dissatisfaction most students experienced with remote instruction, that we’d bring students back to campus and yet disincentivize faculty from teaching them in person.”

Key questions:

What portion of the 50% of faculty teaching remotely would still be teaching remotely if all students were on campus?

I realize that some (how many?) faculty have health concerns. Others may like Zoom teaching, for whatever reason. My sense is that there are very few faculty like that. In other words, I bet that 90%+ of Williams faculty would be teaching in person if students were on campus.

How are the faculty teaching in person planning to deal with students who want to take their class but who are enrolled remotely?

I have no idea how one would do this, at least in large classes. Maybe split the class into two sections: one in person and one on Zoom? Honestly curious to see how Williams handles this.

What portion of the 50% of faculty teaching remotely are doing so because of the incentive effect Crowe describes?

There is a great Record article to be written on these topics. Talk to some faculty! They are interesting people with lots to say!

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