Dear colleagues,

This note is my weekly update on the Learn from Anywhere (LfA) approach that we will implement in the fall and includes six updates: an update on the new application to manage the on-campus and remote student cohorts, a link to the COVID-19 health commitments and expectations for students and some more details on testing, an update on library hours, the schedule for classroom simulations, details on our LfA at SPH Guide, and links to more training resources.

Student Cohort App

About a month ago, the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) surveyed students to get a sense (non-binding) of their preferences for on-campus versus remote learning. The response rate was about 60% among SPH students, and approximately 70% of respondents indicated a preference for on-campus learning. Last week, OUR sent another survey to ascertain student’s plans for Fall 2020. These results are being captured in the Student Link and will be used for fall planning. It is important to note that these recent results, while more proximate and complete, are by student and not by specific course.

Individual course preferences are most important for us, and these will be managed by a new custom application developed by Peter Flynn, senior web developer in the Information Technology group. The student cohort app manages student preferences for on-campus versus remote learning on a course-by-course basis. Students input their preferences for each course in two-week periods, and based on preferences and classroom capacities, the app selects students for on-campus seats. If a selected student is unable to take the seat, they can release it and the app will select another based on an algorithm. The faculty member can generate reports of who will be in the classroom and view preferences for their courses throughout the semester.

Peter will be joining our LfA Teaching Series meeting on August 19 at 4 PM to demonstrate the system.  We will record the session and post it on the LfA page for anyone unable to attend.

Student Expectations and Commitments, Testing

We have shared the student COVID-19 testing protocol and as part of the protocol, all students must affirm their commitment to following all health requirements, including all symptom attestations, tests, isolation procedures, if required, and so on.

Questions are coming up regarding faculty and staff testing, and Dean Lazic is working hard to get and share the details. She has learned that faculty should be contacted approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the beginning of classes in order to schedule a time for the testing. We expect that faculty will need to be tested and cleared the week prior to the first day of class, as there are a number of steps that must be completed. Dean Lazic has shared a brief video that BU developed describing the testing process. As soon as more details are available, we will share them.

Library Hours

The BU Medical Campus library is open, but with restricted hours. From August 3 to August 30, the library is open Sundays through Fridays from 7:30 AM until 6 PM, and closed Saturdays.  The L-11 testing center is also available as a study space every day from 6 AM to 5:45 PM. The library webpage includes a real-time update of density, indicating the number of seats filled and percent capacity, so students are aware of available seats. Hours will be expanded starting August 31, and we will share the new hours when they are published.

Classroom Simulations

Ed Media continues to conduct classroom simulations for interested faculty. Please sign up for a practice session on campus directly with Ed Media. Faculty had requested a training session in CT462, so we scheduled a demonstration/training session for SPH faculty in the room for today at 2 PM. Unfortunately, no one signed up; thus, we will cancel the session. We have also been asked to schedule an SPH training session in EB43 but are awaiting final confirmation from vendors that the educational technology is ready for use. We will again set up a schedule for sign-ups and hope for a critical mass of faculty to run that session.

LfA at SPH Guide

As I noted in prior updates, the LfA at SPH Guide is intended to be a dynamic document with details on how we will implement the LfA approach at SPH this fall. It also contains links to a lot of resources on educational technology, pedagogical approaches, testing and tracing, and so on. We invite any and all comments and questions. Please use this feedback form. We will take feedback through Friday, August 14.

More Training Resources

The Center for Teaching and Learning ran a training session on Pronto, a communication tool to promote interaction and engagement, and the recording for last week’s training session can be viewed here. There is another training session scheduled for Thursday, August 13 from 2-3 PM. Deb Breen, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, is also creating some school-based and/or disciplinary-based Pronto groups for experimentation and has asked any faculty interested in joining a group to email her directly at

The BUMC Ed Media Information Technology group also has a rich archive of training videos, including basic and advanced Zoom features.

We also continue to update our SPH Remote Teaching Resources on our Teaching and Advising site, available here. Our site has resources on educational technologies, supporting students, inclusive teaching, and much more.

Lastly, please also continue to consult the Return to Campus Q&A document with answers to questions that are raised in the SAFER committee meetings, led by Dean Lazic, in the SAFER Town Halls, and in our LfA Teaching Series sessions. This document is updated regularly.

Our next LfA Teaching Series session is this afternoon at 3 PM.

Please let us know if there is anything more you need as we enter the home stretch of preparations for the fall.



Lisa Sullivan
Associate Dean for Education

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