Guide to a remote spring term

Spring term usually coincides with lounging in the sun on Urban Plaza, a plethora of festivals and activities and a humming, vibrant campus. But this year, spring at Portland State will look a little different.

The trees will still be in bloom, but a global coronavirus outbreak has prompted a shift at universities nationwide — and PSU is not exempt.

Interim President Stephen Percy announced March 18 that classes for the entire spring term, which gets underway March 30, will be taught remotely. Just days prior, the intention was to return to campus in late April. But as everyone now realizes, coronavirus has prompted a new daily reality. 

“We know you’re trying to plan your lives as things around you keep changing,” Percy says. “Rather than start the term with lingering questions, we are committed to devoting all of PSU's resources and tools to sustain high-quality academic learning in this time of challenge.”

What does remote learning look like?

It’s important to first understand the difference between remote and online learning.

Online courses are those that were intentionally designed to be delivered completely online. Those classes will not change.

Remote learning refers to all other classes that were once face-to-face that will now be taught this term using a variety of online tools. 

Faculty are working with the Office of Academic Innovation (OAI) and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to prepare and transition their courses to remote learning in advance of spring term.

Classes could be held in the traditional online format using D2L, or make use of recorded lectures, or even transition to Zoom meetings where your professor can hold class in real-time, face-to-virtual-face.

myPSU ( is our student’s hub for all information about remote learning. For example, you will find:

  • A Student Guide to Learning Remotely which includes information such as how to use Zoom or other technologies to stay connected
  • Information on PSU’s new VLAB (virtual computer lab)
  • How to check out laptops and other equipment
  • Strategies on how to manage your time with remote courses
  • Wellness guide to managing our anxieties and how to access resources outside of PSU
  • Information on how to access campus resources remotely

If you have questions about anything about remote learning, please contact the OIT Helpdesk. If they can’t answer your question directly, they will put you in touch with people who can help.

What's Open?

Computer Labs
The first floor of the Library will be open limited hours to provide access to the OIT Computer lab, checkout of laptops and A/V equipment, on an appointment basis.

The lab at Fairborz Maseeh Hall is also open.

Student Health and Counseling: Essential appointments are available on-site as well as emergency walk-ins. Telehealth appointments will begin in spring term. 

Campus Recreation:  The Rec Center is closed until further notice, but virtual fitness classes and wellbeing resources will be available in spring term.

Smith Memorial Student Union: Smith is open 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday with keycard access. The PSU Food Pantry is moving from Smith to the 5th Avenue Cinema by appointment only.

With respect to internet access, in the wake of coronavirus, the FCC announced that all major carriers are allowing cell phones to be WiFi hotspots for free. The student guide to learning remotely has a link to the FCC's program and how to set it up on Android and iOS. Comcast is also providing free wifi and 60 days of free internet for low-income customers.

Student engagement online

New resources will continue to be made available as PSU prepares for spring term and adjusts to a new way of life.

That’s true for student engagement as well. Although meeting places, like the numerous cultural centers on campus, are temporarily closed, programs and departments are looking into alternative ways to interact.

Those resources are detailed on PSU’s coronavirus response page and continue to develop as PSU staff develop new creative ways for online interaction. 

“The coronavirus is an immense challenge, but it also presents an opportunity to be innovative and creative in our approach to education,” Percy says. “Together, we can help stop the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, we want to provide you with flexibility to continue your academic journey while protecting your health, caring for your loved ones and maintaining your work life.” 

For additional information, visit PSU’s Coronavirus Response page:

Story by Katy Swordfisk
Photos by Saleh Alzughaibi and Edis Jurcys