Our learning management system, WISE, will be the primary platform for delivering 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.
Please feel free to contact the WITS Help Desk at 503-370-6767 or firstname.lastname@example.org 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 the course site is published and available.
If you need immediate assistance, please email email@example.com.
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.
Generally speaking, you should expect remote classes to take place at the regularly scheduled class times via Zoom video conferences. The link to the Zoom video conference room will be posted in WISE. Instructions for using Zoom, including a tutorial, are posted below.
Some professors may opt for asynchronous delivery of some class materialS. In that case, they will post content and exercises for you to complete on your own. They will stipulate the due dates and expectations for your participation. All of this will be available in WISE.
Your professor may already have been having you turn in assignments through WISE, in which case nothing is likely to change. If this wasn’t the case, they may now have added online assignment submissions. Check your course for these submission areas, 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.
Here are a few key tips for remotely participating in classes:
- 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 (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, whether by virtually raising your hand or asking a question in the chat window. (Think about how often you participate in regular classes, and challenge yourself to at least match that 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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), tablet or smartphone, 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. If the overall need for computers is greater than the number we have available, we’ll try to accommodate students by acquiring additional laptops from a third-party vendor if we can do so quickly. 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.
WISE requires one of these browsers:
- Firefox (Windows, Mac, Linux) - free download here
- Chrome (Windows, Mac) - free download here
- Safari (Mac)
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.
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 Law Students
Your professors will still be holding office hours and meeting with students by appointment, although these meetings will most likely be over Zoom. Please contact your professors if you have not heard from them about their plans.
Students who need reference help from the library can email email@example.com. There have been recent updates to online availability of supplements, so reach out to a librarian if you need assistance.
Students who don't have access to reliable internet at home can use Ford Hall as a study space or to access classes remotely. Students will need their Willamette ID to swipe into the building.
For students in the College of Law who have concerns about their ability to reliably access course content and resources online, please contact Associate Dean Melodye Mac Alpine.
We will inform you when spring registration will begin; it will likely occur on a close to normal schedule. You may drop or add Fall semester classes through Friday, September 4, 2020. Students who have questions or need assistance should contact the Office of Student Affairs (OSA).
For law students, the deadline for withdrawing from individual classes will be October 23, 2020. This will result in a “W” on the student’s transcript. Any student who is contemplating a withdrawal from the semester in its entirety should contact Associate Dean Melodye Mac Alpine.
We’ll do our best to meet your accommodations during this period. Please note that we don’t have specific information about how each course will be delivered. Reach out to your instructors to discuss how changes in instruction may impact you. If you need additional accommodations, contact Accessible Education Services at 503-370-6737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.