A new, collaborative and resilient approach to instruction at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Professor and Nobel laureate Saul Perlumutter gives a lecture. (UC Berkeley photo by Elena Zhukova)

The newly announced Instructional Resilience Week “is a major, unprecedented endeavor for instructors, students and staff.” (UC Berkeley photo by Elena Zhukova)

Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost, and Oliver O’Reilly, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, sent the following message to students, staff and faculty on Monday:

We are writing to urge our entire community to collaborate this week in creating and using a new approach for Berkeley to become much more resilient to power outages, air quality challenges or other events that could disrupt ordinary instruction in the future. Accordingly, the Chancellor and Provost, in collaboration with the Academic Senate, are declaring the next week “Instructional Resilience Week.”

In making this effort, we are attempting to move from the day-to-day guesswork of basing our decisions on conditions outside of our control to instead taking control of what we can to uphold our educational mission.”

We are asking instructors to devote time over the next seven days to making missed course content available and/or to learn how to make future course content available in alternative platforms such as bCourses and Zoom.

The Academic Innovation Studio (located in Dwinelle Hall, Room 117, Level D) will be the designated Digital Teaching and Learning Headquarters where in-person support and virtual support will be provided to instructors, including graduate student instructors, to convert course content to digital formats. Instructors who want in-person assistance can access course conversion assistance at the Academic Innovation Studio through the end of next week. If air quality index used by the campus exceeds 150, the team will move support services to 2850 Telegraph.

How this instructional content is delivered is important for two reasons: First, we must honor our commitment to disability accessibility. All of our students must be able to use this content in an equitable manner. Second, it is in our collective interest to be able to document the extent to which these instructional materials are actually used. Both of these goals are best achieved by using university-sanctioned resources.

The campus has approved converting course content with the bCourses and the Zoom video conferencing platforms. Please refer to the resources listed in the Center for Teaching and Learning website (for instruction) and the GSI Teaching and Resource Center for guidance. These resources include the following:

We understand that it is not possible to convert all course content to online formats. However, we encourage working to establish and test any other alternatives that instructors believe will promote instructional resilience.

This is a major, unprecedented endeavor for instructors, students and staff and will require everyone’s contribution. In making this effort, we are attempting to move from the day-to-day guesswork of basing our decisions on conditions outside of our control to instead taking control of what we can to uphold our educational mission.

With your help and cooperation, in a future emergency, rather than declaring that classes are cancelled, we could declare an alternative instruction day. Such an emergency could occur at any time, even later this week. Let’s take steps now so that we can be prepared.

We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well during these challenging times and thank you in advance for your efforts to enable the campus to become more resilient.