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Online Classroom Standards Letter

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to make sweeping changes to the way we do business at USAFA, and that includes moving our academic courses to an on-line environment. Making this move will be a big adjustment for both you and your faculty members, and it is important that we all work together to maintain the high standards that we all expect of each other. I have written this guidance to highlight a few issues that are of particular importance to me, as well as to our faculty and staff. Please read this guidance carefully, as I expect you to maintain these standards.

Some Things Have Not Changed

  • While you will be taking your courses remotely, you are still a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, as well as a member of the Profession of Arms. As such, you are expected to present yourself professionally, interact with your instructors and classmates respectfully, and complete your work at the same high level that would be expected in a face-to-face classroom. The location of your coursework may have changed, but our high standards will remain the same.
  • Honor defines the bond of trust between us, and it forms the bedrock of our profession. Therefore, we remain committed to cultivating and sustaining a culture of honorable behavior. You are expected to do the right thing in all circumstances, and you will be held accountable for any violations of the Cadet Honor Code. If you have questions about what materials are allowed, ask your instructor. And, as a reminder, always document any help received with any assignment.
  • You remain responsible for having all materials necessary for you to be successful. Now that we have moved to an on-line environment, this will include your computer, a charger, a webcam, textbooks, software licenses, and any other required supplies. You will obviously also need reliable network access. If you do not have access to such a reliable network, please notify both your AOC and your academic instructors as soon as possible! If you are unable to get reliable network access, we will be left with one of two options: 1) bringing you back to USAFA for the remainder of this semester; or 2) having your repeat your courses at a later time.
  • You are still expected to maintain proper customs and courtesies when interacting with DF faculty and staff, both military and civilian. Remember your sirs and ma’ams, even as we move our classes on-line.
  • Treat each other with respect. You are responsible for helping to create an on-line environment where all individuals feel welcome and respected for who they are.
  • If someone treats you disrespectfully, or if you see someone treating others disrespectfully, take the opportunity to tell them so. If you are uncomfortable doing so, contact your instructor, the course director, or the Department Head.
  • We are all here to help you learn and develop to the maximum extent possible. To be successful, you must complete all assigned work to the best of your ability and be receptive to feedback about how you can improve.

Revised Academic Calendar

  • We will resume the spring semester on Wednesday 25 March, which will serve as Lesson T23.
  • We will continue teaching this semester according to a modification of our original M&T day calendar. I will be sending you a final version of that calendar separately.
  • Because of the disruption to our original semester schedule, due dates for many of your assignments may have shifted. Your instructor and course director will have the most current syllabi changes pertinent to your classes. You remain responsible for all graded events determined by your instructor.

Course Formats & Course Delivery Platforms

  • It is possible that some of your courses will be held synchronously (where you, your instructor, and your classmates will “meet” on-line simultaneously), while others may be held asynchronously (where your instructor will post course material and you will be expected to complete work without being required to log in at a particular time). Many of your courses may have both synchronous and asynchronous elements. Your instructors are responsible for communicating with you regarding the specific requirements for each course, but you have a very important responsibility to ensure you keep up with those requirements.
  • Just as your courses are likely to vary in format, it is also likely that different courses will rely on different on-line platforms. For some courses, you may need to log in to Blackboard; for others, you may need to log in to Microsoft Teams, Canvas, or some other on-line platform. Your instructors are responsible for telling you what tools to use, but you are responsible for using them appropriately. If you are unsure how to use the technology required of you, please tell your instructor.

For Synchronous Lessons

  • Class times will be based on Mountain Daylight Saving Time. For example, your first period classes will begin promptly at 0730 MDT; your second period classes will begin promptly at 0830 MDT; etc. Please plan accordingly based on whatever time zone you are in. If you are located OCONUS, and it is exceedingly difficult for you to adhere to this synchronous schedule, please tell your instructors.
  • Class attendance remains mandatory. Just like in-person classes, you are expected to come to class on-time, well-prepared, and ready to participate in all class discussions and activities. If you have are ill or have a legitimate conflict (such as a medical appointment) that will prevent your participation, be proactive in communicating with your instructors in advance. I have instructed your instructors to inform your AOC if you have an unexcused absence from a synchronous lesson.
  • Wear an approved utility uniform to any synchronous lessons and to any synchronous EI sessions. This will serve as a visual reminder that you are still a military member and that performing to the best of your ability is your military duty. As with your face-to-face classes, compliance with Cadet Wing standards in AFCWI 36-3501 and Air Force grooming standards in accordance with AFI 36-2903 remains mandatory.
  • When you use your webcam, your instructor and classmates will be able to see not only you but also your surroundings. Please ensure that you are located someplace appropriate for others to view and where external distractions are limited. Instructors may address and institute additional online ROEs for their particular classes.

For Asynchronous Lessons

  • Asynchronous lessons will not require that you log in to attend class at a particular time; however, you will still have deadlines by which you need to complete work for each lesson. You are responsible for meeting those deadlines.
  • Please log in to each of your courses daily. If faculty members reach out to you regarding your classwork, you are expected to respond in 24 hours or less.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

  • If you get sick, promptly tell your AOC and each of your academic instructors. This will be especially important if your illness prevents you from completing your academic work in any way.
  • It is also possible that you may experience life events (e.g., sick family members) that will interfere with your ability to complete your work in a timely manner. If those events happen to you, please tell your AOC and each of your academic instructors as soon as you can. If you share this kind of information, your instructors will be better able to help you and accommodate your needs.
  • Bottom line: stay in touch with your instructor and respond to any communications from your instructor in 24 hours or less.

Stay safe; stay healthy; stay connected; stay in shape; stay committed; and stay studying.

Brigadier General, USAF
Dean of the Faculty