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USMMA Issues Coronavirus Update #6 - Memorandum from the Dean - Changing Course to Online Learning - Third Trimester 2020

KINGS POINT, N.Y. (March 20, 2020) – USMMA today issued the following memorandum from the Academic Dean and Provost, Dr. John Ballard, announcing the start of third trimester online classes.

Shipmates:

COVID-19 has forced us to make several significant course changes; this memo outlines moving our academic courses to an online environment. Making this move will be a big adjustment for you and our faculty and staff members, and it is important that we all work together as shipmates to maintain the high standards that are necessary to earn your licenses and commissions, and to continue your progress through your education requirements. This guidance highlights a few issues that are of particular importance. Please read this thoroughly and carefully, as maintaining these standards are essential.

We are fully committed to continuing your education and training via alternate means during this challenging and rapidly-changing COVID-19 environment. To that end, our priority remains accomplishing the overall Academy mission, and specifically preparing the Class of 2020 for licensing, graduation and commissioning into the fleet.

We will start the third trimester on Monday, March 23, using the same class schedule as previously published except that we will use Mountain Daylight Time as the base for daily instruction. See the table at the bottom of this memo if you have questions about time zones.

Some Things Have Not Changed

- While you will be taking your courses remotely, you are still a midshipman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and 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 remain the same.

- Honor defines us and 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. If you have questions about what materials are allowed for an assignment, ask your instructor.

- You remain responsible for having all materials necessary for you to be successful. Now that we have moved to an online 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 company officer and your academic instructors as soon as possible.

- Treat each other with respect. You are responsible for helping to create an online environment where all individuals feel welcome and respected for who they are. You are still expected to maintain proper customs and courtesies when interacting with faculty and staff, both military and civilian, even as we move our classes online.

- 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, on time, and be receptive to feedback about how you can improve.

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” online 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 and inform your instructor if you don’t understand.

- Just as your courses are likely to vary in format, it is also likely that different courses will rely on different online platforms. For most courses, you will log in to Blackboard; for others, you may need to log in to Zoom. 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. Our Blackboard site can be found here: https://blackboard.usmma.edu.

For Synchronous Lessons

- Class times will be based on Mountain Daylight Time. For example, your first period classes will begin promptly at 0745 MDT; your second period classes will begin promptly at 0850 MDT. Please plan accordingly based on whatever time zone you are in. If you have some issue with this 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 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. 

- Wear appropriate clothing to any synchronous lesson. This will serve as a visual reminder that you are still a mariner, performing to the best of your ability. As with your face-to-face classes, compliance with our grooming standards 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 protocols for their particular classes.

- Concerning PDF versions of readings posted to Blackboard: while they are available for you to view and use they should not be shared with others.

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

- Read your email and respond when required! We understand that midshipmen receive large volumes of email each day. It has never been more important operationally than it is right now that each midshipman check and respond to official email on a daily basis. While you will communicate via Blackboard and Zoom for classes and with instructors, remember, you are away, and we may reach out to you with important information via email.

- If you get sick, promptly tell your company officer and each of your academic instructors by email. 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 company officer and each of your academic instructors by email 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 instructors and respond to any communications from them in 24 hours or less.

Stay safe; stay healthy; stay engaged; and stay on course for graduation.

John R. Ballard, Ph.D.

Academic Dean and Provost
United States Merchant Marine Academy
Kings Point, NY 11024

 

 

Class Periods and Times for Online Course Instruction

Period Start Time at USMMA by Instructors

Time midshipmen required to log in to course, based on location in United States if other than Eastern

Period

Eastern

Central

Mountain

Pacific

1

0945-1040

0845-0940

0745-0840

0645-0740

2

1050-1145

0950-1045

0850-0945

0750-0845

3

1155-1250

1055-1150

0955-1050

0855-0950

4

1300-1355

1200-1255

1100-1155

1000-1055

Lunch

1400-1445

1300-1345

1200-1245

1100-1145

5

1455-1550

1355-1450

1255-1350

1155-1250

6

1600-1655

1500-1555

1400-1455

1300-1355

7

1705-1800

1605-1700

1505-1600

1405-1500

####

ABOUT USMMA

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, N.Y, educates and graduates leaders of exemplary character who are inspired to serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as licensed Merchant Marine Officers and commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Academy, which was established under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943. It is administered by the Maritime Administration under the auspices of the Department of Transportation.

On the web: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

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On Twitter: @USMMAo

Last updated: Friday, March 20, 2020

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