Detailed Q&A on how classes will be conducted in Spring 2021

Most of these inquiries came from teachers when their questions were solicited through a Google Form sent out in early March 2021. We laboriously sought answers for these excellent questions from various professors, centers, and administrative bodies at the university. The responses are presented here for your reading pleasure. The content may be subject to change depending on the uncertainty of the situation.

How should classes be conducted at the beginning of the Spring and Fall semesters?

We have been asked by the administration to hold the first week of classes in both the spring and fall semesters online by offering students “on demand” content. This does not mean that you will need to upload a video to CoursePower (it is an option), but you will need to put some content up on CoursePower that introduces your course, explains how it will be conducted and how you intend to communicate with your students (if it is through some means other than CoursePower), and, perhaps, provides students with their first task or assignment. [Do not assume that students will know what to do by virtue of having read the course syllabus since they do not always read them.]

As they will probably be overwhelmed during their first few weeks of classes, as we might be as well, please avoid assigning too much to them initially. If you intend to use an LMS other than CoursePower after the first few weeks of class, that must be clearly explained on CoursePower.

Are all classes going to be 100% face to face at AGU?

The Faculty of Literature and the English Department (which is part of that faculty) aims to hold as many classes as possible F2F, or through some sort of hybrid or “hi-flex” mode. As the university has allowed the various colleges, faculties, and departments to independently decide how it will hold classes, there are some variations among them.

If classes are going back to a F2F mode of instruction, why is it necessary to continue using CoursePower, or some other LMS, and Zoom or WebEx as well?

It is impossible to predict if another State of Emergency declaration, or some other circumstances, might make it necessary to return to an online mode of teaching, either temporarily or for the duration of the term. So, it is essential that you continue to make assignments and class materials available online. Initially, that will have to be through CoursePower because that will be the only way your students will be able to make their first contact with you.

How can we safely implement the curriculum, particularly in classes where interaction in pairs and groups is essential?

Students and teachers will be required to wear a mask at all times in the classroom and when on campus. In addition, face shields will be distributed to all students and faculty members.

What should we do if we have a student in a F2F class who appears to be ill?

They should be referred to the campus Health Center 「保健管理センター」.

When teachers and students enter the university campus will their temperatures be taken?

There are no plans to measure the temperature of students or faculty at the university gates or at other locations on campus.

From April, will it continue to be necessary for faculty to show their university ID at the gate?

It hasn’t been decided, but it probably won’t be necessary. However, you should always carry your official university-issued ID when on campus, just in case.

How can we safely implement the curriculum, particularly in classes where interaction in pairs and groups is essential?

Students and teachers are required to wear a mask at all times in the classroom. In addition, face shields will be distributed to all students and faculty members.

I’m worried that even if I show up for classes in person, most (or some) students might expect to be able to pass the class by accessing on demand assignments and completing them online. 

The university website informs us that F2F attendance in classes (in the case of the classes which are held in that mode) will be required in the 2021 Academic Year in order for students to get credit.

— Will students be able to opt out of attending F2F classes? What should the attendance policy be for F2F classes? 

— Must they provide a reason for being unable to attend classes F2F? If so, who will assess what constitutes a “legitimate” reason? [Will it be handled like the accommodations that the Student Disability Support Center writes up for students?]

Students who are unable to attend F2F classes will need to apply to the administration for a special exception. It is expected that they will be required to apply to the Student Support Center for Persons with Disabilities or submit a medical certificate through some other mechanism. [As of March 11, the procedure has not been officially decided. The procedures and standards will be decided at a dean’s meeting on 3/15.]

Will teachers/students be tested for COVID?

There are no plans to test students or teachers. That situation may change if variants spread or if a cluster should occur.

Naturally, we would not want students to come to class when they are sick. Should make-up assignments be given? In that case, up to how many classes should students have to attend in order to pass?

There is no university-wide uniform standard for the number of allowable days absent or the number of supplementary classes that would make up for absences. To ensure fairness, we will be offering some general guidelines in this regard for IE Program classes. [Stay tuned.]

Will AGU eventually require a proof of vaccination document from faculty and/or students?

We have not received any information in this regard and there is no indication that it has even been discussed.

Will the university’s Internet infrastructure be able to support hi-flex teaching (i.e., by having dozens of teachers, potentially, simultaneously conducting Zoom/WebEx classes or streaming their F2F classes for students participating online)?

Classes are being planned on the premise that they can withstand the Internet environment on campus. Where the Internet environment is lacking in particular university buildings that will host online classes, reinforcement work is being carried out during the spring break.

Will an area be prepared on campus that students can comfortably use to take online portions of their hi-flex, hybrid, or “on demand” classes when they are not meeting F2F with their classmates and teachers in class?

Yes, the university is planning to set aside a few classrooms in the Junior College that students may use for their online, hi-flex, or “on demand” classes. At the moment, N202 and N302 have been earmarked for this use from April 12th.

Can we have confidence that CoursePower will not fail again at the beginning of the academic year?

Unlike the first semester of 2020, the starting date for the course registration period and the starting date of classes do not overlap, so the server is not expected to fail. In the second semester of 2020, there were almost no events that led to CoursePower crashing. However, it is still necessary to reduce the load on CoursePower. For lesson support systems, such as CoursePower, refer to the website of the Information Media Center as appropriate.

What special precautions, if any, will be made for classes held in CALL classrooms?

Special precautions will be taken for those using CALL classrooms. A separate handout will be distributed which covers how teachers can conduct classes safely in that environment. Room occupancy will be capped at 50% of available seating for CALL room classes, whereas, for regular classrooms, the cut off is 65%.

Will any new CALL-related systems be introduced?

Yes! A new system called MALL will be introduced from April 2021. This is a web-based CALL system which should allow the usual activities that are conducted in CALL rooms with more or less the same ease. Students will be able to use the system with their own smartphones to listen to materials and recordings, and even submit their own voice recordings. It can be used anywhere, even from home. The FLL plans to create a manual explaining how to use this new system. It is uncertain at this point when an English version of the manual will be available. Hopefully, the system will be designed elegantly enough so that a manual will not be required.

When will we have a chance to try using MALL? 

By the end of March at the earliest, and from the beginning of April at the latest.

Will an app need to be installed and what devices are compatible with it?

Yes, there is a MALL app. The app can be used on any smartphone (Android or iOS) or computer (Windows, Mac), and probably on tablets as well.

Students will be able to borrow laptop computers from the Joho Media Center (1st Floor of Building 2). Will those computers have webcams? 

Yes, they will.

As usual, teachers will be able to borrow laptop computers from the teachers’ rooms for use in their classes. Will those computers have webcams and will Zoom be installed?

Although they will have webcams, Zoom will not be installed. Teachers may install it themselves, but there is no guarantee that the computer that they borrow from the same office after that will still have the application installed. So, it may be necessary to reinstall it. 

Five Mac notebook PCs and 200 Windows notebook PCs are available to be borrowed on the Aoyama (Shibuya) Campus.