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Fun with virtual backgrounds!

Your Zoom background doesn’t have to feature your office file cabinet covered with stickies. Nor does it need to highlight your washer and dryer, if you’re Zooming from home — although a quick appearance by your cat is a nice way to break up your lecture.

By changing your virtual background in Zoom, you can teach from (virtually) anywhere in the world, like Ryan Calo, the Lane Powell and D. Wayne Gittinger Associate Professor in the School of Law. Watch this Zoom video to find out how to make your own.Ryan Calo, UW School of Law

What to say and how to say it

Communicating with your students is vitally important these days, especially without in-person classes and final exams. Where to start? Here is how the Law School explained finals to their students:


Dear Students,

Thank you for your patience as we transform our operations to enable remote finals that are both flexible to our students and allow faculty to make final assessments on student learning.

Finals will, for the most part, fall into two categories: papers or timed exams. Access to a computer with internet is required to complete these finals, but you can take exams from any computer. Students without access to a computer or internet can use one of seven designated computers available in the Gallagher Library.

Paper Finals

Papers will be turned into Canvas.

Over the course of the next week, if you are enrolled in a paper final course that requires anonymous submission, you will find a new Canvas course on your Dashboard for paper submission. These courses will all be labeled by class, professor, and “WIN20 Final Submission”. This allows us to securely collect papers and retain anonymity as your faculty will not have access to these Canvas pages. Please make sure your Exam Numbers are in the header of your papers and that they appear on all pages.

The Canvas courses will be available for the duration of finals week, but the turn-in deadlines will be set as directed by faculty. If you submit past the deadline, it will be noted with a “Late Submission”. Please note, Canvas can stall if there is significant simultaneous usage. If everyone tries to submit at the same time, right at the posted deadline, it can slow Canvas and show a late posting. If the time stamp is within five minutes of the posted deadline, it will not be considered late.

Timed Exams

On Monday, March 16, all timed exams will be accessible for you to take at the times and days you choose. Exams will be available for download until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 20. Due to the high volume of reschedule requests already in queue, this format allows you all to self-space your exams.

Timed final exams will be hosted in ExamSoft. Unlike previous exam cycles, all exam questions will be embedded into the software. We have enabled the timers so the exams will automatically upload at the end of the faculty-determined exam time. For example, if you begin your assessment at 2 p.m. and the faculty has determined the assessment should only take two hours, the assessment will close and upload at 4 p.m.

Faculty have determined which security settings to enable and those will be posted in your exam instructions.

Exam instructions will be posted to your class Canvas pages by Sunday, March 15. Your Examplify for ExamSoft passwords will be included in these instructions. Please do not use the passwords until you are ready to begin your exams. The timer will begin when you use your passwords, and you will not be able to pause your exam.

A refresher on how to install and access ExamSoft is available on the UW Law website.

Honor Code

As a UW Law Student, you are beholden to the Honor Code. As you begin each exam, we will ask you to re-acknowledge the Honor Code.


  • If you have an emergency and are not able to complete your exam during this period, contact Dean Anna Endter or Academic Services immediately.
  • If you are having day-of technical issues, call Academic Services at 206.542.0453 or email
  • ExamSoft support is also available at 866.429.8889.

Academic Success

Dean Jessica West wants to point out that the ability to manage your own exam times provides an incredible opportunity to exercise control over your study schedule. In the absence of careful planning, however, this lack of structure over the next couple of weeks also presents some significant risks.  It will be important to consider carefully how you will use the time to complete your work and prepare well for your exams.

Academic Success will be holding a Zoom workshop discussing exam preparation, exam scheduling and exam taking from 12:30 to 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, March 11. Dean West is also available to provide insights and resources on all academic issues. Email Dean West for details at


Faculty were asked to confirm if they were planning to adhere to the original grading system. For most courses, grading procedures will remain unchanged. If your instructor has decided to change their approach to grading, they will follow up directly before the end of the quarter (March 10, 2020).

Food Service

The Supreme Cup and the Starbucks truck usually located in front of William Gates Hall will be closed until spring quarter starts on Monday, March 30.

If you have any questions, please contact Academic Services at