Information for CAS Remote Students

Our learning management system, WISE, will be the primary platform for connecting to your class remotely. Your professor will provide course materials and Zoom session links via WISE.

The resources on this page will help answer many of the questions you may have about  attending classes remotely, and/or changes the university has put into place to safeguard the community’s health. Kelvin Clark, Director of Academic Support, has also assembled a guide to study habits, time management, and other aspects of remote learning you should be aware of.

Please feel free to contact the WITS Help Desk at 503-370-6767 or wits@willamette.edu if you need any assistance with technology along the way.For the latest information on Willamette University’s response to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Updates page.

Remote Participation FAQ

You’ll access your courses through WISE, the Willamette Instructional Support Environment. This learning and collaboration system provides course sites for official university classes.

If you can't find a course you believe you should have access to, contact your professor to make sure you’re enrolled and that the course site is published and available.

If you need immediate assistance, please email wise-admin@willamette.edu.

Refer to your WISE course for instructions on communicating with your professor. Unless otherwise instructed, Willamette email will be the preferred means of communication. Refer to your syllabus or look for an email link in your WISE course.

The timing of some of your classes may be adjusted to allow for social distancing on campus. Please refer to your WISE course or contact your professor. Regardless of when your course is scheduled, some content may be available for you to access at your convenience; this option, however, will not be available for all class sessions or all courses, as many will require your real-time engagement with other students and the professor.

Check your WISE course for instructions, and if you are unsure, contact your professor. To submit an assignment, follow these instructions (note that WISE is based on the Sakai LMS platform, so the instructions reference Sakai). Other professors may ask you to send in your assignments via email. It’s important to closely follow the directions of your professors in each of your classes.

This short tutorial will walk you through the process of setting up Zoom on your computer or smartphone.

Or you can go directly to our Zoom website, and set it up.

To access Zoom to attend a class, use the link your professor has placed in the WISE site for your class.

Here are a few tips for attending classes remotely:

  • If you have headphones or earbuds, use them. The sound quality will be better, and you’ll experience fewer distractions.
  • If several people are using Zoom to attend class from the same space, mute the speakers on all but one computer (otherwise, you’ll likely get audio feedback).
  • If you’re not actually speaking to your class, mute your microphone. This will minimize background noise for everyone.
  • Try to find a quiet place to attend class, with few other things around you competing for your attention. Don’t multitask.
  • If you’re used to taking notes on your computer, you may need to switch to handwritten notes (or try to juggle back and forth between screens). Zoom sessions can be recorded for later re-viewing, which could minimize the need to take real-time notes, but this can only happen if everyone in the class is comfortable with being recorded.
  • It can be hard to stay engaged with a course that doesn’t require you to get up and physically go to class, talk to other human beings face-to-face, and immerse yourself in the environment. Try to replicate the structure of regular coursework as much as possible by setting aside specific times to do any asynchronous work, attending class from your desk or a classroom rather than in bed, and communicating regularly with your professor and peers. Set yourself a goal of participating in class at least (X) times per session (think about how often you do so in regular classes, and challenge yourself to replicate this over Zoom).

Zoom emerged as the preferred video conferencing platform during the Covid-19 pandemic, and because of that status, it has been heavily scrutinized by industry experts in privacy and cybersecurity. If these experts had applied the same scrutiny to other video conferencing platforms, similar issues would have been exposed. Willamette closely monitors security issues reported with Zoom, to help ensure that our use is private and secure. We have always had Zoom integrated into our technical architecture in ways that provide greater privacy and security, as compared to most other organizations. Here’s some additional information:

In privacy terms, Willamette is the Controller of the Zoom data. This means that it is our responsibility to control the privacy of Zoom classes and recordings in the same way that we control the privacy of on-campus classes. We are using WISE to make Zoom links and recordings available to class participants, which means they are available to only the registered students in a course.

Zoom has a comprehensive privacy policy that explains how they use personal data. It describes in detail the fact that it captures and uses some personal data in order to provide the service. The data that it captures is reasonable, given the service that it provides. It carefully states that a user's personal data is not sold; however, it does state that Zoom shares some personal data with some third parties for those companies’ business purposes. We have confirmed that when Zoom shares user data with third parties, it first completely anonymizes and aggregates the data in order to protect users’ identities and privacy.

Some privacy experts have criticized Zoom for offering an 'Attention Tracking' ability, which provided the option for a call’s host to be notified anytime someone on the call does not have the Zoom Desktop Client or Mobile App in focus for more than 30 seconds. Please understand that feature has to be explicitly turned on, and Willamette University has always had this function disabled and Zoom disabled it for everyone in April 2020.

Some privacy experts have reported that Zoom makes it possible for a remote person to turn on a user's camera without their knowledge. Willamette has verified that on July 10th, 2019, Zoom corrected this issue and users are prompted and must agree before their camera is turned on.

Zoom does allow administrators to see details of how, when, and where users are using Zoom. These administrators are in WITS, and there are four of them. They have access to this information so that they can provide support to users in case of any issues, and they understand that this data is private and to be accessed only when supporting the use of Zoom.

Zoom provides AES 256-bit GCM encryption, one of the most secure encryption standards used today. This means that external individuals cannot tap into a call.

On April 1st, 2020, the Zoom CEO made a public commitment to do the following within the next 90 days: have third party security experts conduct a comprehensive review, aggressively address any issues found, and be transparent about the status. Willamette closely monitored these results and has enabled the additional security features that arose, to help ensure that our Zoom implementation is private and secure. Zoom is committed to maintaining a focus on security, and Willamette will continue to monitor their performance.

To minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is important to practice social distancing. If you want to meet with others one-on-one or in small groups to study or socialize, please maintain at least a 6–foot distance, and practice good sanitation.

Individual professors and departments have developed plans to accommodate these activities, and your professor will communicate with you about your specific course or the work you’re doing. Not everything can be replicated, but we’re working hard to ensure that your learning experience will be as strong as possible, even while it is altered.

In line with directives from Oregon’s governor to “Stay Home, Save Lives,” access to some areas on campus will be restricted. If you believe you have a need to use space on campus that you cannot access, contact the professor or staff member in charge of it. If unsure whom to speak to, contact casdean-info@willamette.edu.

The WITS Help Desk is the primary source of technology assistance and information for members of the Willamette community, and staff will assist you with any technical issues related to remote participation in classes. You can reach the WITS Help Desk at 503-370-6767 or wits@willamette.edu. It is staffed Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We also have the ability to gain remote access to your computer, with your permission, to resolve issues.

WITS has a limited number of laptops for students to check out at the WITS Help Desk in Smullin 118. We don’t have enough for all students who may want one, so WITS has a prioritization system. If you are remotely participating in classes and don’t have access to a computer (desktop or laptop), you’ll be given highest priority. If you’re remotely participating in a class requiring software that can only run on a particular type of computer, and you don’t have access to one, we will loan you one. Keep in mind that you have to be able to pick up the laptop from the Help Desk.

Panopto is the lecture capture service at Willamette, and it is integrated with WISE. Panopto lectures can be accessed from your WISE course site. For more information, please visit the Panopto student faq page.

If you need immediate assistance, please email wise-admin@willamette.edu.

WISE requires one of these browsers:

Ancient browsers (Netscape, Internet Explorer) will not work with WISE.

Safari can cause problems trying to upload files to the Resources and Drop Boxes tools.

Older versions of Safari and WISE have known compatibility issues. If you are using an older Mac, WITS recommends using Mozilla Firefox or Chrome.

WISE is based on the Sakai LMS platform and their online user guide answers most of the "How do I..." questions.

Remember that you can access Zoom via a smartphone or tablet. Plus you can check out a student laptop from the WITS Help Desk (see above).

If you don’t have access to the internet, consider whether there’s a public library or other free wifi access in close proximity. Several internet providers, including Comcast, Spectrum Charter Broadband, and others, are offering some free internet services during this period. If you cannot get access to the internet, you should contact your professor and discuss your situation. They’ll be as accommodating as possible.

Additional Information for CAS Students

Your professors will still be holding office hours and meeting with students, although depending on the professor, these meetings may be over Zoom. Please contact your professors via email if you are not sure about their plans. Tutoring will be available from the Writing Center, Learning Center, World Language Studio, and most academic departments. The Career Development Center will be doing some Zoom and some in-person meetings, as will all the staff in the Success Hub.

Deadlines will revert to normal in fall semester. If illness or other life events compromise your ability to meet registration deadlines, you will have the option, as you always do, to petition the Academic Status Committee to consider an extension due to exceptional circumstances. We recommend that you work closely with your professors and advisor early on, when possible, in order to avert crises.

Normal limits on Cr/NC grading, which were suspended for Spring 2020, are back in effect. While we recognize that distance learning presents some challenges, we are unable to offer different grading schema to students based on whether they attend class in person, remotely, or a combination of the two. If you are concerned about your ability to manage remote learning, please talk with your professor(s), your advisor, and/or our academic support staff to get help.

We are working to create online forms for most standard processes. If one does not yet exist for something you’re trying to do, the Registrar’s office can manage with any combination of physical form and email approvals (from willamette.edu accounts). For example, you can send a written email to the Registrar, your advisor, and your instructor, letting us know you want to withdraw from a course. Please remember that course numbers are extremely helpful in our work (e.g., SOC 101.01). Once both the instructor and advisor have replied acknowledging their approval of the withdrawal, the office will process the withdrawal.

To declare a major or minor, fill out the declaration form, take a clear picture of it, and mail it to registrar@willamette.edu, copying your current advisor. If possible, also copy the chair of your new major department.

The office of Accessible Education Services will work with students to help them with accommodations for distance as well as in-person course attendance. Some of these accommodations may look different from what you are used to, but the goal of creating equitable access whenever possible remains the same.

The Accessible Education Services office will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can reach Accessible Education Services at 503-370-6737 or accessible-info@willamette.edu.

Reach out to your professor if you have any questions related to your coursework, and be sure to regularly check the WISE page for your course.

We realize that your work environment or assignment may change due to legal or organizational changes in policy. Be sure to coordinate with your professor (or Francesca, in the Career Development Center, if you’re a CAS student doing an internship under her supervision) and site supervisor to make alternative arrangements if needed.


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