Faculty Resources for Remote Learning

Remote Classroom Technologies

The University of Pittsburgh classes continue in remote learning environments.  Student interaction with faculty and peers in the remote learning environment is critical to the overall learning experience.  Faculty and students are encouraged to arrange for the most effective use of instructional technology to ensure accommodations are still being provided for students who are approved for accommodations through the office of Disability Resources and Services (DRS). 

The University Center for Teaching and Learning (UCTL) offers the following advice on the transition to remote learning:

Consult with: 

Disability Notification Letter 

Students registered with DRS request their Disability Notification letter for any relevant class each academic semester.  The Disability Notification Letter outlines the accommodation needs of an individual student.  It also includes the name of the student’s Disability Specialist.  Instructors can access this letter at any time in the DRS Instructor Portal by following this navigation: 

  • Login to DRS Instructor Portal 
  • On the INSTRUCTOR AUTHENTICATION PAGE click Continue to View Student Accommodations 
  • On the OVERVIEW page you see a table that lists all accommodation requests for your students 
  • Click View in the left most column next to a student’s name to view thdisability notification letter 

Having access to the accommodation needs on the Disability Notification Letter provides instructors with the necessary information to accommodate a student.  If there are questions about implementing an accommodation, please contact DRS at (412) 648-7890.  

Alternative Testing Accommodations:

The University of Pittsburgh Testing Center (UPTC) will remain closed while the University is in the High and Elevated postures.  Therefore, during these postures, DRS will not be using UPTC to proctor accommodated exams. 

Students who have been approved for alternative testing accommodations should still receive these accommodations regardless of the learning platform. Please keep in mind that some students may have accessibility barriers using proctoring software.

Extended Time on Examinations:

Instructors utilizing Canvas for timed exams should provide students with extended time accommodations.  This means extending an individual student’s exam length per the extended time accommodation (found on the Disability Notification Letter).  You can find resources for providing these accommodations in Canvas (scroll down to “Quizzes”).

Ability to take breaks during examinations/ Untimed breaks during examinations (clock on their examination stops) 

There are some students who need to take breaks during their examinations. This may or may not need to be addressed depending on how your examinations are administered. Please consult with DRS to determine how this accommodation can be considered for an individual student.  

Testing environments in which distractions are minimized

If you are administering an online examination, it is the student's responsibility to find an environment that meets their needs. One consideration is to set up your examination to allow the student to take the examination at anytime within a specified window. This may allow students to better manage their testing environment.

Examination materials in enlarged font

DRS recommends that examinations be provided in a word document format; this gives the student the ability to independently adjust the exam’s font size per their individual needs.  If you cannot provide this format, consult with DRS. 

Scribe for scantron exams/Scribe for written exams 

Scantron and written exams are related to face-to-face interaction and in-person administration.  If you have questions about how these accommodations relate to your new learning platform, please consult with DRS. 

Remote Test Proctoring

It is important to remember that students registered with DRS are protected by confidentiality and it is vital that staff and faculty uphold discretion when addressing students in the online environment. Here are ways to assure accommodations are provided while respecting a student’s right to privacy for assessments administered virtually:

Provide individual breakout rooms for students who receive accommodations

Prepare a list of students who need to be transitioned to these rooms prior to the exam for ease of transition. This can be done by exporting the student list in your Faculty Portal. The process for exporting can be viewed in the Viewing Student Accommodations & Disability Notification Letters on the Portal Login page, under Faculty/Instructor Login.

Adjust the start or end time for exams for students who receive accommodations accordingly

Provide an earlier start time to students who receive accommodations to add them to breakout rooms prior to the exam beginning, OR

Add students to individual breakout rooms 15 minutes prior to the end of the regularly scheduled exam time to allow for smoother transition at the end of the call

To reduce distractions for students who receive accommodations, permission to mute the sound on their exams will allow them to work without distractions

Communication to students during exams should be had via chat as well as verbally to allow them to engage with conversation when needed

Reduce the number of verbal distractions by having students raise hands via chat or application alert

Non-Testing Accommodations:

Consideration with regard to absences related to medical needs

The student may be absent due to the impact of their disability. For example, this absence could be due to a hospitalization, a medication change, or an exacerbation of symptoms. When an absence is directly related to the disability, DRS asks the instructor for "consideration". Consideration can be defined as allowing for more absences than students without disabilities. DRS will assist you to determine the application of this accommodations in the remote environment.

Consideration with regard to assignment deadlines as deemed reasonable 

Students may request consideration of an assignment deadline due to the impact of their disability. The student and instructor are encouraged to dialogue to determine how to implement the accommodation. "Consideration" can be defined as allowing additional time (i.e. 24 or 48 hours extension). "Consideration" may not apply with group work, posted solutions, hard deadline or other such concerns. DRS will assist you to determine the application of this accommodation in the remote environment.

Course materials in an alternate format 

While print materials are not being provided in a remote environment, some students may need digital course materials in an alternate format accessible to their needs. DRS is communicating with students and faculty associated with this accommodation.

Captioned and/or transcribed media 

DRS is communicating with students and faculty associated with this accommodation. 

Other Accommodations: 

If a student receives other accommodations that will be impacted by the remote learning environment, please communicate with the student immediately to discuss options.  The Disability Resources and Services staff are available to assist as needed to help apply accommodations.      

Additional Resources  

In addition, The Center for Teaching and Learning has created Virtual Workshops that focus on specific topics related to teaching remotely.  These workshops can be found on the Teaching Center's website.