WPI Plans for Fall Opening Latest Information



TechFlex: Highly Flexible Academic Options

WPI is reimagining when, where and how we deliver our distinctive education: We’ve adjusted the calendar; we’ll be learning, teaching, and working both on campus and remotely; and we’re using technology to provide choices for students and faculty alike.

TechFlex is WPI’s reworking of teaching and learning for the upcoming academic year, grounded in all that is distinctive about the WPI experience and designed to support students in person and remotely. TechFlex will allow for blended, remote, and in-person teaching and learning, as appropriate.

We’re built for this.

We’re using technology, flexibility, ingenuity, dedication and—of course—problem solving to welcome students to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. This blend of in-person and technology-enabled delivery provides meaningful and effective learning while supporting the health and safety of students, faculty and staff by limiting the number of people who are in classrooms, labs and other spaces.

Adaptive, Responsive, Flexible...

Should the university need to shift gears due to public health trends, COVID cases on campus, or other issues, TechFlex enables the university to quickly adapt course delivery and the academic calendar to allow for continuity in coursework.

Revised Academic Calendar

We’ve revised the undergraduate academic calendar—but don’t worry, we’re keeping our distinctive seven-week terms—and the graduate academic calendar. For undergraduates, A Term runs from Monday, August 31 to Friday, October 16. The mid-term break has been shortened but still gives students a long weekend before B Term, which starts Wednesday, October 21 and ends Friday, December 11. The graduate semester runs from August 31 to December 11.

We expect many students will want to stay home after the Thanksgiving break (Wednesday, November 25 through Sunday, November 29) and finish their classes and exams remotely. We’re OK with that, and we’ve built the option into our course planning. Students will receive information from faculty. Thus far, C and D Term remain on schedule.

Graduate Courses

We expect the majority of graduate courses to be offered fully remotely for the fall semester. Some students may come to campus for labs, discussion sections, or research as appropriate. These remote courses will run continuously through the fall semester, or as indicated in the course schedule. WPI has offered graduate courses through distance, remote, and online learning delivery for over 40 years. This has proven to be an effective delivery method for many graduate courses, facilitating successful learning outcomes, while offering flexible schedules for students and faculty.

In-Person, Remote, or a Combination

Our goal is to provide students and faculty with options that best suit their needs. To the extent possible, undergraduate courses will be offered both in-person, online, or as a hybrid to better accommodate students and faculty and minimize large group gatherings. For example, large lectures will be delivered asynchronously (because we’ll have to limit the number of people in any classroom or space), with smaller discussion and help sessions in both in-person and online synchronous chat formats. Labs and hands-on instruction will happen in person, but in smaller groups.
 

Schedules Centered on Safety, Optimized for Flexibility

You’re probably wondering… what does TechFlex mean for your schedule. It will depend on each class. As we’re sure you can imagine, it takes a little time to rebuild the entire fall course schedule. Faculty, staff, Facilities, IT, Academic Advising, and student support services are working together to map out exactly which courses will be offered when, how, and where. 

We’re doing our best to minimize the impact on course schedules, but some of the changes may create schedule conflicts. We will work closely with students and advisors to be sure that every student has access to the courses they need. We expect the details of the course schedule to be more clear by the end of July. Please be patient. We will communicate more details as soon as they are available.
 

 #TechTogether

We will work together to stay together. All students, faculty, and employees will be required to complete COVID-related training before returning to campus. As a community, we will commit to several safety protocols, including wearing face coverings (with the exception of those who have medical or other reasons that doing so is unsafe) and maintaining social distancing in classrooms, hallways, stairwells, and other common areas.
 

Technology-enabled Learning

WPI has installed lecture capture technology in all classrooms, along with specialized training for instructors to effectively engage students in both in-person and remote learning.  Courses have been redesigned and reimagined to provide the quality content and engagement that you would expect from a WPI education, regardless of the form of delivery.
 

Student Support

 Whether learning on-campus, remotely, or a through a combination of options, students will have access to the educational, technical, and well-being support systems needed to be successful.

Classrooms, Labs, and Study Spaces

On campus, classrooms, labs, and study spaces have been reconfigured to support physical distancing. Capacity will be limited to adhere to state guidelines and the university’s own policies. Large classes may be moved to bigger spaces on campus or split into sections, and you may see plexiglass shields around lecterns and faculty desks. Labs, makerspaces, and other spaces, likewise, are reconfigured with dividers, and schedules will be altered to minimize the number of people in the space at any given time.

The WPI Facilities team implemented heightened cleaning protocols for all spaces on campus, focusing particularly on high-touch surfaces (tables, desktops, keyboards and shared equipment, chairs, handrails, doors and doorknobs, elevator buttons, restrooms, etc.)  Hand sanitizer stations have been installed all across campus. Learn more.

Additional adjustments to our reopening plan and operations may be needed based on updated guidance and public health trends. We recommend you check back regularly for the latest updates.