Notice: Important information about COVID-19 here.

University response to COVID-19 a campus-wide team effort

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: March 24, 2020 3:00 p.m.

Transition to distance learning, teaching and working is a campus-wide effort
Transition to distance learning, teaching and working is a campus-wide effort Photo: U of R Photography

During this time of global crisis, the entire University of Regina community has come together to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and find ways to ensure that students are able to complete the 2020 Winter semester.  

From the University’s Executive Team to deans, faculties, and instructors, information services, instructional designers, health, safety and wellness staff, student affairs, librarians, and communications – everyone – has worked long hours to support the creation of student, instructor, and staff virtual platforms that form the basis for distance learning, teaching, and working.

On Friday March 20, the University of Regina launched the remote learning support site for students. This site features: links to Virtual Zoom Classrooms that allow students to join their regular classes via the internet; Student Class Notes where instructors can post information on their courses and exam; and, support for connecting to U of R systems and software when studying from home and practising social (physical) distancing.

“It was ‘all hands on deck’,” said Art Exner, Associate Vice-President (Information Services). “Every available staff member in Information Services contributed, many over the weekends and through evenings. There was intense collaboration with the staff from the Flexible Learning Division of CCE, as well as the teaching support staff from the Faculty of Nursing, supplemented by technical staff from the Faculty of Business Administration and the Faculty of Science. In addition, David Gerhard from the Faculty of Science, and Alec Couros from the Faculty of Education, gave generously of their time and expertise to inform much of the work.” 

“Without exaggeration this was the best collective IT work I've ever witnessed given the timeline and scale involved,” stressed Exner.

“The speed with which everyone has come together to transition University services to remote delivery and virtual meetings is unprecedented,” remarked Dr. Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic). “I want to thank all University of Regina faculty members and staff who have truly gone beyond, putting in countless hours to make the transition to remote teaching and learning a reality. We are tremendously grateful for all your efforts in this time of challenge.”

distance learning

Through the new remote learning
platform, students can now join
their classes from home.
Photo: U of R Photography

As of Monday evening, 6,311 students engaged remotely with 181 virtual classroom sessions. In addition, the student peer mentoring/orientation virtual room served 738 students, and 248 course instructors have entered class notes for a total of 512 courses.  In each case, these numbers are increasing daily as the campus community takes up full-time distance teaching and learning.

Contingency plans for students who require computer access are being developed. Those students are asked to email their contact information immediately to covid19@uregina.ca.

Transitioning an entire university to distance learning is a monumental undertaking. Knowing how to use the technology effectively as a teaching tool, is equally important. To aid this transition, units such as Flexible Learning and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) are also offering free sessions on how to use distance learning and teaching technology and associated pedagogical practices, which might be new to some instructors. Through online sessions, CTL is providing consultation for instructors who have pedagogical questions as they transition from face-to-face to distance teaching. 

The Flexible Learning Instructional Design Team is hosting drop-in sessions for instructors, as well, to assist them in their understanding and use of Zoom conferencing and to help answer questions about UR Courses. These free sessions are offered March 23 to 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“More than 82 people have joined our Zoom sessions to date, which doesn’t include the more than 45 requests for individual support outside of the drop-in sessions in Zoom” said Greg Bawden, an instructional designer at Flexible Learning.

Although, due to COVID-19, the doors of the John Archer library are closed until further notice, Library staff continue to work with instructors and students to digitize the most essential learning resources and make them available online. Other Library services have also moved online, including reference and instruction services for students, staff, and faculty. For a full list of service updates, visit the Library’s COVID-19 LibGuide.

To help ensure information related to the University’s response to COVID-19 is communicated in a timely manner, University Advancement and Communications has created a website at www.uregina.ca/covid-19/ which is updated daily.  Check the website for important new information and to learn about changes in services and supports.

Of course, none of these services could be provided safely and effectively without the ongoing support of the many custodial, housing, maintenance, and food services workers. Together we are stronger.