Any number of circumstances can impact a typical class schedule – inclement weather, extended illness, travel to an international conference, power failure – but you can prepare a contingency plan for your course to keep your students on track.
- First, start planning early.
- Next, keep your plan simple.
- Finally, work with the technologies you know best.
These checklists can be adapted for a one-time absence or an extended period.
- Take care of yourself.
- Bring home hard copies of any resources, textbooks, or materials you may need if you are away from campus for an extended period of time.
- Verify you have a functioning device at home for DUO authentication.
- Create a class contact directory (email or phone) – for example:
- Student email addresses – PeopleSoft roster and Blackboard course
- Student emergency phone numbers
- Distribute emergency contact information to your class
- Clarify your turnaround time for communication in an emergency
- 24 hours? Preference for email, phone call, text?
- Manage your communication load: Create a Frequently Asked Questions page or discussion forum to centralize inquiries.
- Share your syllabus with students in digital format
- Include a statement about academic continuity and how you plan to handle potential disruption to the course.
- Try to remember mobile-friendly content in case students only have access to portable devices. Save content to PDF, if possible, and optimize the size of those PDFs so they are small and easy to read on a phone.
- Convert paper-based materials to electronic format
- Provide enough information in your syllabus or Blackboard course shell so students could work independently for a short period of time – if needed.
- Identify and prepare at least one week of content
- Record lectures
- Prepare slide decks
- Develop study guides
- Consider using Open Educational Resources.
- Secure and share important course readings and other materials using the ARES library reserve system.
- Consider having your students do 1-2 online activities to get used to this delivery format
- If you’ve never used Blackboard, try ULTRA!
- Use adaptive learning (Original Blackboard) or conditional availability (Ultra Blackboard) to create self-guided course content for students.
- Prepare synchronous and/or asynchronous engagement opportunities that can exist outside the classroom.
- If you use in-class media screenings, what alternative do you have to ensure students can view these resources? Check with the library’s media collection, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube. Baltimore County Library may be another good resource for streaming media.
- Introduce remote learning tools early so you and your students become familiar and comfortable with them.
- Cultivating presence with online learning tools is important. Communicate early and often to maintain presence when classroom continuity is disrupted.
- Focus on course outcomes: Prioritize coursework that helps your students moving toward achieving those outcomes.
- Rearrange schedules and convert classroom activities to asynchronous activities that promote the same learning outcomes.
- Specify file names to avoid receiving multiple copies of Essay1.docx — it will be easier to identify and grade student work when you have documents with a simplified naming convention (e.g., Jane_Doe_Essay1.docx).