New winter term start date and other key dates
Dr. Bruce Sparling, associate dean academic, provided the following update on Dec. 7 regarding the new Winter Term start date and its impact on other key dates during the semester.
• The term will start on Monday, Jan. 11 for all undergraduate and graduate engineering courses, and end on Tuesday, April 13.
• The total number of teaching days (61) has not been affected by the delayed start.
• The midterm break has not moved, and will take place the week of Feb. 15.
• The deadline for registration changes with 100 percent tuition credit has been moved from Jan. 18 to Jan. 22, with the dates for withdrawing with partial tuition rebates being moved by similar amounts.
• The last day for withdrawing from Winter term courses remains on Thursday, April 7 (note: this has not been changed to reflect the revised end of term).
• The dates listed on the Dynamic Schedule (Banner) for courses will not be updated, including the start and end dates for the course, and scheduled dates for labs and/or tutorials.
The Dynamic Schedule was not updated to reflect the delayed start date because that would involve a complete rebuild of all courses, necessitating the withdrawal of all students from existing courses and re-registering them in the revised versions, all of which was not administratively feasible in the timeframe available.
As a result, the default assumption is that labs and tutorials will take place on the originally scheduled dates, without any adjustment for the late start. Instructors may be able to make alternative arrangements if they can ensure that moving those dates will not cause conflicts with other courses.
However, since any modifications to lab and tutorial dates will not be reflected on the posted Dynamic Schedule, any such changes will have to be clearly communicated by the instructors to the students to avoid potential confusion.
In-person courses for Winter Term 2021
The College of Engineering received approval from the Vice Provost's office on Nov. 2 to offer seven courses with a face-to-face component.
Undergrad Town Hall
College of Engineering Dean Suzanne Kresta and Associate Dean Academic Bruce Sparling held a virtual town hall Oct. 21 with undergraduate students to discuss Winter Term 2021 and online teaching and learning. Dean Kresta also urged students to be mindful of their mental wellness as they try to do their best during an unusual semester.
First Year Town Hall
College leaders held a question-and-answer session on October 30 with first-year students in the College of Engineering.
FAQs about class delivery
All undergraduate courses are being held online this fall. This provides predictability and stability for students. Given that a second wave of COVID-19 this fall is consistently predicted across all models, the most robust solution for course delivery is 100 percent remote delivery. All engineering schools in Canada have 100 percent remote delivery this fall for undergraduate students.
You will not be required to come to campus at any point during the fall term.
We have worked with professors to help them develop content that will give you a fully-engaged learning experience. We want to hear from you if concerns arise during this term.
We are encouraging professors to have both lectures and interactive student content. For example, they may use the regularly scheduled class time (when you’d normally go to an in-person class) for optional student interaction: discussions, tutorials, office hours or availability with teaching assistants. The mandatory content – the lectures – would mostly be pre-recorded so you could access them on your own time. This provides flexibility for students who are in different time zones.
We are working with professors and with our technical staff to determine how we will deliver our lab content. Some may be interactive, such as a virtual lab where you talk with the technician who uses the settings that you pick and you then get your data virtually. Some will be running simulations from your own environment, so that you can see what the lab would produce. Some will combine the video demonstration with other materials. Some labs may use a video of what you would have seen if you had been there observing in person.
Final exams will be conducted online in December. We know that for our first experience with online exams in March, some tests were too long as professors incorrectly calibrated how long the exam would take or were trying to ensure academic integrity. Several students paid to use online platforms during their exams. These incidents were investigated and serious consequences resulted for those students.
At a minimum, we would like students to have in-person labs and access to specialized facilities for the winter term. We don’t know yet if campus will fully reopen for face-to-face classes in January. This will depend on how well COVID-19 is contained and we cannot predict that.
Students should plan to move to Saskatoon in January. We will provide more information as the fall semester unfolds and we have more information about COVID-19 in our city and province. Alternate arrangements for any international students who are faced with COVID travel restrictions will be part of our ongoing planning considerations.
We are planning that in January students will have some access to the campus for key experiential learning – like capstones. College leadership will continue this aspect of crisis and recovery planning through the fall term.
Our communities – in Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world – are going to need your engineering skills as we move through the next stages of the pandemic and then the eventual recovery in our economy and society as a whole. The resilience and resourcefulness you are developing now as you cope effectively with this adversity will serve you well throughout your career and life in general. As well, we could potentially face capacity issues in the college when students return, making class sizes for the year in question larger than normal.
We encourage all of our students to persist with their studies. We will be there to support you. We’ve got this!
More information is available in the overview of Dean Suzanne Kresta’s May 25 town hall with students. Check out the full overview.