Remote Learning: Frequently Asked Questions for USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources Undergraduate Students

Will classes be online or in-person this fall?

To ensure the health and safety of our students and campus community, all undergraduate courses (including lectures, labs and tutorials) for AgBio students will be held online this fall. Unless you have already been contacted by your course instructor regarding possible field course components, you should assume that your courses will be held entirely online.

Does this mean I don’t need to move to Saskatoon during the Fall 2020 term (September-December)?

It will not be necessary to move to Saskatoon at this point, because you will not be required to come to campus at any point during the fall term.

Why did the College of AgBio choose to move classes online instead of offering classes in person?

The safety and well-being of our AgBio students, faculty and staff is our first priority. On any given day before the COVID-19 pandemic, USask welcomed more than 30,000 people to our main campus in Saskatoon. With thousands of people sharing classrooms, residence rooms, dining facilities, and social and recreational areas, our campus is at risk for an outbreak of COVID-19. USask is working hard to implement health and safety measures to protect our campus community, guided by provincial recommendations and the approval of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. Moving courses online protects our campus community while giving USask time to make sure protocols are in place so that we can return to campus safely. 

An equally important consideration is the quality of our programming and the learning experience of our students. Making the decision to move classes online has given our instructors the time they need to develop course materials to ensure that you will experience the same excellent education as always - just with a different style of delivery. It also means that you will have a consistent learning experience without potential disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Will I learn everything that I need to in an online class?

Our faculty and instructors are dedicated to making sure that you will have an excellent experience in our AgBio classes. Departments are coming up with creative strategies to deliver hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for lectures, labs, and field experiences. Agros are resourceful and creative under pressure, and your professors are no exception!

What will my remote courses look like?

Faculty and instructors have been working all spring and summer to develop courses that can be delivered online. Some will continue to use Blackboard as the online home for their courses, while others will be using Canvas, a new learning management system being introduced by USask. There will likely be a mix of pre-recorded videos and scheduled online discussions and activities, which will vary for each course. Your instructors will be providing you with more information about how each class will operate closer to September. If you have any questions in the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to your instructors personally. 

What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous classes?

If a class is delivered with all or some components that require the student to log in and participate at a scheduled time, it is classified as “synchronous delivery.” “Asynchronous delivery” means that there is no requirement for a student to log in at a particular time, and all of the coursework is either pre-recorded or otherwise delivered in a way that can be accessed at any time by the student.

If classes are delivered online, why are there still dates and times for the classes?

Even though some classes may be fully asynchronous (i.e., no scheduled online meeting times), many classes have some or all of the delivery occurring at scheduled times (i.e., synchronous delivery). Even though the courses are being delivered remotely, many classes will still require you to log in and participate in a “virtual” classroom activity, so make sure you are available during your class times.

Will I be able to participate in class?

Yes! Our AgBio faculty and instructors are committed to open communication and participation in remote courses. While the method of participation may differ depending on the instructor, there will be opportunities for you to interact with your instructors and classmates.

Will I be able to meet with my professor virtually outside of class hours?

All students will continue to have access to faculty through email or other learning platforms (online chat rooms, online office hours, discussions boards, etc.). Faculty will also continue to advise students of their office hours to arrange for virtual meetings.

How do I know if my computer/laptop and internet connection will work for online classes?

You will need access to a computer and internet at home in order to participate in online classes. USask’s Information Technology and Communications team (ICT) has put together a list of recommended technology requirements. If you don't have access to the internet in your home, a phone with data may be used as a personal hotspot. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many carriers are waiving data overages or offering reduced pricing for certain plans. Please check with your carrier for more information.

I have concerns about remote learning. How will I access my courses, complete assignments, and find support?

We understand that the transition to online learning might be stressful at times. To support you through this time and ensure your continued education, USask has compiled a helpful resource list of commonly used online tools and services.

Will final exams be held remotely in December?

Yes, final exams will be held online in December. The final exam schedule will be available after the term has started.

What are the plans for the Winter 2021 Term (January-April)?

As per USask President Peter Stoicheff’s announcement on September 10, Winter 2021 Term classes will be offered primarily online. Decisions about what Winter Term classes will look like are still being made, but you should expect that the majority of your classes will be offered entirely online. If any of your courses will include in-person lab or field work components, you will be contacted by your course instructor about this well in advance of January.

Can I still book an appointment with an academic advisor?

Yes! If you are a first-year student or a newly admitted transfer student, you can connect with the AgBio Student Services team by emailing agbio.studentservices@usask.ca or booking a phone appointment online.

BOOK A PHONE APPOINTMENT 

If you have completed your first year and declared your major, you should contact the faculty advisor for your area of study.

CONTACT FACULTY ADVISOR

Please note that while faculty advisors are working remotely, email is the best way to get in contact with them.

I have other questions! Where can I find answers?

USask’s COVID-19 Updates includes comprehensive information about campus status and activities, safety guidelines, and resources for students. We encourage you to check this page, as well your USask email account, regularly, so that you have access to all the updates and information you need.

Not sure where to start? Email agbio.studentservices@usask.ca for help!