How do I register for a remote course or an in-person course? How will the fall semester work? During these unprecedented times, many students have questions about what the fall semester, their schedules and their classes will look like.
To make sure that every single student gets to ask their question—and receives an answer, in July FIU unveiled Ask Charlie, a website featuring a form where all students can submit their questions about the upcoming semester and receive an individual response to their question.
With Ask Charlie, students don’t just ask an anonymous team of professionals – they literally ask Charlie their question – that is Charlie Andrews, assistant vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. Andrews is a higher education professional who has been at FIU for more than 20 years and has extensive experience working with academic affairs, student affairs, academic advising, curriculum and academic departments at the university.
“With all the uncertainty everyone is facing these days with life, not just education, we knew there would be questions about the fall semester,” Andrews says. “President Rosenberg brought up that there should be a point person specifically to address questions. The idea is, let’s have someone students can reach out to, a person that can try to help students who are having issues or challenges related to their fall courses or schedules. My name came up for this, and I’m happy to help.”
To get the project running quickly, folks came together from across the university, including FIU Online, Media and Technology Support (part of the Division of Information Technology) and the Academic Continuity team—a group of administrators who’ve been spearheading how the university is communicating with students and staff about academics during the pandemic.
The FIU Online team created the website – and Andrews’ emoji – in just a few days, and Ask Charlie was officially launched during a virtual town hall for students on July 8. Since then, Andrews has received more than 400 questions.
Andrews is providing answers to each person, sharing information about courses and procedures, and often connecting folks with the appropriate department or unit for more specific questions.
“I feel honored to be someone that’s helping students with this,” Andrews says. “It gives me joy. This reminds me why I’ve worked in higher education for so many years. I’m passionate about helping students in transition. Right now, all of our students are transitioning to this new normal. I’ve seen positive comments on social media, and I’ve gotten several thank yous from students and staff alike. It’s really nice to know that you’re making a difference and having an impact.”
He adds, “To me, that’s always been what our president is doing. He’s a big advocate for students. It’s part of FIU. This is a large university, but we still find ways to add personal touches to it. That’s what makes our institution so great and unique. We provide a personal touch, it’s at the heart of who FIU is. It’s a privilege to be a small part of that.”
Here are some of the main questions Andrews is getting—and his answers.
How can I find out if my course is being taught in-person, hybrid, remote or online?
Andrews says the way to figure this out is by logging into PantherSoft and taking a look at your course schedule. Go to the course’s Class Notes information, and if a building and room number is listed as its location, it’s either an in-person or hybrid course.
If under course location it indicates, "no room needed," that course is remote. Fully online courses, as always, have the words "fully online" listed.
Additionally, you can use the "Mode of Instruction" filter to specify course modality when you search for classes.
How can I find and switch into a course being taught in a different modality than the one I’m currently registered for? (The four different modalities are in-person, hybrid, remote and online.)
Andrews says you’d find another course like you normally would, by searching in the system for the course you’d like to take. Then you should look through each section of the course to see which sections are offered in which modality. You might find there are several sections of the course being taught in the modality you desire, and you can easily swap into the one you're looking for.
Andrews says that not every single course is offered in each of the four different modalities, so you might need to shuffle your schedule around accordingly. Not all classes can be offered in all formats, but the colleges and departments have done their best to offer as many courses in multiple formats as they can.
And, if you're hoping to find remote or online course options for the fall semester, rest assured: approximately 70 percent of FIU's fall schedule—that’s literally thousands of classes—is being offered either remotely or online, and many of the on-campus classes also have online or remote sections.
Will my course be changed from remote to in-person during any time of the semester?
“All classes starting remote will stay remote the entire semester,” Andrews says. “All classes starting online will stay online the whole semester.”
Andrews explains that there are students currently living in other parts of the state or the country, and hoping to continue their studies – so it’s important to know that if you begin a course remotely or online, it will continue in the same modality for the semester. You will not be asked to travel back to Miami or attend in-person courses in the fall if you begin the semester in remote or online courses.
However, for those who begin an in-person or hybrid course, if the need arises due to the situation with the pandemic, those courses may be converted to remote learning during the semester as needed.
FAQs, general procedures and international students
For answers to a number of top frequently asked questions, Andrews recommends folks check out the FIU Coronavirus website. For international students with specific questions, he recommends reaching out to the Office of International Student & Scholar Services or checking out the office's FAQ page.
To submit your question to Andrews, check out the Ask Charlie website.