In gearing up for the much-anticipated return to campus this fall, UC Riverside is implementing several processes and services for a uniquely complex quarter, including readying multiple on-campus remote learning spaces to serve students with hybrid schedules.
Planning for a fall return to in-person instruction began in February, with several working groups convening over the last several months to ensure the campus meets the needs of students and faculty navigating both in-person and remote courses while maintaining a safe environment.
“We’ve been spending six months going over everything that could possibly happen,” said Richard Edwards, director of UCR’s Exploration Center for Innovative Teaching and Engagement, or XCITE. “We want to communicate to the students that we did not forget about them, we knew it was going to be challenging for them, and that we were making contingency plans so that they can be successful.”
While the majority of classes are set to be offered in-person, students’ schedules may include both in-person and remote instruction to maintain COVID-19 safety protocols such as social distancing. Designated remote learning hubs will provide convenient spaces for students to attend their remote classes without needing to leave campus.
“We’re thinking about the challenges for our students — how they are going to be able to balance a core schedule that will mix in-person attendance with remote participation,” Edwards said. “We have identified several spaces that we are going to prioritize for students who need access to high-powered internet and power outlets in order to successfully attend their online courses.”
These spaces include reservable and open study areas in Rivera and Orbach libraries; several indoor and outdoor areas at the Highlander Union Building, or HUB; the University Theatre; and reservable and open study areas throughout the newly opened Student Success Center.
“We want to communicate to the students that we did not forget about them, we knew it was going to be challenging for them, and that we were making contingency plans so that they can be successful.”
Offerings vary between spaces, with some, including the libraries, supplying areas with desktop computers. Some HUB spaces, including HUB 302, have been reconfigured to allow for distancing between students and outfitted with additional power strips to ensure enough outlets are available. The Student Success Center features numerous outlets and seating options, including individual study rooms and “Brody chairs,” which act as single-person study pods.
Each remote learning space and additional information, including available technology and how to reserve rooms, is now available on the Keep Learning website, which was developed as a remote-learning resource for students during the campus shutdown and will continue to provide the most up-to-date information.
“We’ve tried to find as much space that was conducive to remote classes — space that is quiet, but also that allows students to participate if they need to chime in,” said Julia McLean, communications and special projects coordinator in the Office of the Provost, who is serving as chair of the workgroup overseeing the implementation of the remote learning spaces.
Numerous technology and infrastructure upgrades have been and will continue to be implemented through the fall quarter, including major upgrades to campus Wi-Fi, to enhance a hybrid learning experience for students and faculty, McLean said. For students in need of devices throughout the day, laptops may be checked out from the available laptop kiosks in Rivera and Orbach libraries and the HUB. The Loan2Learn program established during the campus shutdown will also continue to be available for students needing to borrow a device for the duration of the quarter.
Access to the remote learning spaces will be on a first-come-first-serve basis, except for areas that are reservable in advance. Capacity will be limited by COVID-19 safety protocols and all students will be required to wear masks while indoors. Regulations are subject to change based on county guidance and campus vaccination rates, with 90% of the UCR community considered a “fully vaccinated campus.”
“We are doing everything we can for this to be a return back to some sense of the normal campus residential experience, but we also know we’re not in charge — COVID is in charge,” Edwards said. “We have to react to whatever happens with changes in the health and safety of not only our community, but Riverside County, California, and the world.”
While using the spaces, students are expected to follow all safety protocols and UCR’s code of conduct. They will be required to use headphones and maintain a quiet space for other students. If a high level of participation is required, students are advised to reserve a private study room to limit disruptions. Edwards notes that remote learning spaces may continue to evolve through the quarter, with changes made to accommodate level of use, sound mitigation, and continuing to provide students what they need to attend remote courses successfully.
“We want students to come back to campus. We want them to feel safe. We want them to feel like they’re getting the education experience they expect from UCR, that they feel welcome and entitled to use these spaces, and that they have the resources they need to navigate another complex quarter.”
Staff will be available on site at some of the remote learning spaces, including the Student Success Center and libraries, to help students troubleshoot issues related to attending their online courses or with technology. Students are also welcome to visit the on-campus computer labs for in-person support with IT issues, such as wireless network access, using the virtual private network, or VPN, accessing student email, accessing instructional software, or other issues. They are encouraged to check out the ITS Knowledge Base for self-help articles with step-by-step guidance for accessing standard IT services and resolving common IT problems. Support is also available to students by contacting the BearHelp helpdesk by phone or by submitting a support ticket through the IT Service Portal.
“It’s going to be a challenging quarter, but we are doing as much as we can to make sure that students know where to go to find answers and what to do in case something doesn’t work.” Edwards said. “The encouragement is for them not to get frustrated, but to reach out to the numerous channels around campus.”
Beyond the designated remote learning spaces, students who are currently enrolled in courses at UCR can browse and download software from the new Software Catalog in the IT Service Portal. Alternatively, students can run software without downloading it to a device by using the Apporto virtual computer lab. Students are encouraged to visit the ITS student website to learn more about these services and other IT resources available to them.
“We’re really excited to have students on campus, but our number one priority is health and safety,” McLean said. “We want students to come back to campus. We want them to feel safe. We want them to feel like they’re getting the education experience they expect from UCR, that they feel welcome and entitled to use these spaces, and that they have the resources they need to navigate another complex quarter.”
Information and Resources
- On-campus remote learning spaces- Find locations and information on available remote learning spaces around campus
- Keep Learning - Remote learning resources, updates, and information for students
- Campus Return - The latest information and updates about the reopening of the UCR campus
- Loan2Learn- Learn how to apply for a loaner device for fall quarter
- Laptop Kiosks - Learn where laptop kiosks are available on campus and how to check out devices for up to 24 hours
- ITS student website - Learn more about available resources and services for students
- BearHelp - Learn how to submit a service ticket and contact the BearHelp help desk for assistance with technology
- ITS Knowledge Base - Self-help articles and troubleshooting guidance for technology issues
- Software Catalog - Learn how to use the new student software catalog available to all enrolled students
- Apporto virtual computer lab - Access available software without needing to download
Header Photo: Ample seating and outlets are available in the new Student Success Center. (UCR/Stan Lim)