March 24th


Faculty of Engineering Response to COVID-19 (UPDATE March 24, 2020)

TO: Engineering Students

From: Tim Little, Associate Dean of Engineering

Subject: Resumption of classes on-line

As one Associate Dean of Dalhousie recently said, “for a 200-year-old institution to change its identity in seven days is quite remarkable!”

As students, you have been a part of that change and have, in fact, experienced the first days of this change. Although the situation may be challenging at times, I hope the next two weeks are an enjoyable experience as we finish out this term together.

Let me begin by wishing you health and safety as you sort out all of the changes and anxiety associated with our world situation. We are being ushered into a new age of global interaction and a new age of engineering instruction. There are many challenges that you have been called to face and there are many yet to come.

This e-mail is about how we can work together to face those challenges, complete this term, and for many of you, graduate. Secondly, let me wish you academic success in the term and in your continued studies at Dalhousie or beyond.

In this past week, your instructors have been challenged to devise and execute a plan to turn all in-person courses at Dalhousie into online courses. We call it ‘Temporary Remote Teaching’. As a result, on Wednesday of last week you should have received from your instructors a course completion plan and a revised syllabus for each of your courses.

In this course completion plan you should now have a good concept of what content is left to be covered in your course and what grading metrics are going to be used to assess your knowledge and proficiency with the material.

The most important thing now is communication. Talk to us. Tell us if you are having problems. That is the only way we will be able to help. With that in mind, here are some important things to note.

1. Every course has now been structured to not require any in-person classes or meetings. Everything you need to do can be completed remotely, in physical isolation. Do not meet in person, even if you are in Halifax.

2. Each instructor was tasked with completing the essential learning outcomes in the course, in the time remaining. Every course is different. Some courses may have less work, some may have the same amount of work. Instructors are asking you to do whatever they believe is essential for you to succeed moving forward.

3. To help us work through these extraordinary times, the Dalhousie Senate has approved special provisions for the remainder of this term to allow programs to make adjustments to the course syllabus without the normal student consultation. All plans have been reviewed, and we can say with confidence that instructors have made changes that are student-centric and that recognize the state of the world. Everyone is working to further adapt to situations as they arise.

4. Some of your deadlines may not have specific times. This is a sign of flexibility, recognizing that the class is now offered over many time zones. If you can, please submit your assignments by the end of that day, wherever you happen to be. If you cannot, please contact your instructor.

5. Many exams or final assessment formats have changed. Where possible, instructors have aligned with the scheduled exam time during the exam period. We are working centrally to identify potential conflicts, but you may discover individual issues as well. If you have too many exams on one day (more than two) and there isn’t enough flexibility for you to do them all, please alert an advisor at or contact your department.

6. If you think it will be too difficult to complete part of a course due to your personal situation, talk to your instructor first. If you can’t come up with a workable plan together, or if it is something out of their control, they may refer you to other options:

· If you are experiencing barriers that need to be removed or mitigated, contact for student accessibility services. This service is now provided online.

· If you don’t want to complete the course as it is restructured, perhaps due to decisions you made earlier in the semester that you now regret, the deadline to withdraw with a “W” has been extended to March 30. This has tuition implications and may delay degree progress, so you may want to talk to an advisor first. You can drop a course at Dal Online.

· If you can’t complete the course now but think you could complete it given time, contact an advisor. They may be able to offer other options.

· If you have limited access to technology or the internet, or are facing other insurmountable obstacles outside of your control, your second point of contact is Undergrad Advising (, who may be able to offer alternative solutions.

7. Learning online is different. Because instructors have only had a week to adapt to online tools and redesign a course intended for face-to-face contact, there will be aspects that will not work as well as anticipated. We ask for your patience, understanding and help to allow us to address issues of concern.

Student Affairs has created a single Brightspace site with links to key information across all student support services. In addition to good advice for online learning, it has very practical resources like sample Brightspace quizzes and advice for taking multiple-choice exams online.

8. We are currently in the process of deciding on details for the summer semester courses, which as you know, must be offered entirely online. You will hear more from us of these plans as summer schedules are finalized.

These are unusual times for all of us and your health and safety come first. Take care of yourselves and your families. We also want to limit or manage any long-term impacts to your academic work, which we know is important to you as well.

We are incredibly proud of how our instructors have rallied to meet this challenge, and we look forward to being equally proud of how you as students respond and adapt. We believe in you and we will come through this together.

Wishing you much success,

Tim Little, Associate Dean of Engineering