Anticipating the Unexpected
There is no telling what will come up or happen over the course of a semester. Whether something happens that is weather-related, health-related or something else, it is important to be prepared if you need to alter your plans at a moment's notice.
Plan ahead. Think about what you can set in motion now that will make dealing with unexpected circumstances easier later.
No matter the scenario you are facing, it is recommended that you do the following:
- Add alternative instruction language to your syllabus. Let your students know what they can expect if you or they have to take an extended absence or if the university must make a change quickly. This will allow them time to ensure that they have the right technology, resources, and software in order to make the changes necessary, if possible.
- Create, populate, and use your Blackboard course site. It only takes a few moments to open up your course site and add your students. Having this ready to go will only help you later. Having the course site does not mean you need to teach online, you can use it for communication, housing grades, assignment submission, and so on.
- Have Mediasite and/or Zoom applications downloaded on your computer for when and if you need them.
Below are some scenarios you might encounter and suggestions for how you might approach them. These suggestions are not exhaustive and list simply a few ideas. Note that most of the recommendations for addressing student flexibility needs are the same as those for address faculty needs. Being proactive helps everyone in these unique times
Remember that the CITL team is here to help! If you have questions, run into issues, or want to talk through ideas, please send a request through CITL to set up a meeting with an instructional designer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether the student is sick, quarantined or dealing with a family emergency, life happens and, although it is not ideal, it is important that you consider alternate options and learning opportunities for your students.
Recommendation: If needed, record classroom sessions using Zoom.This is not ideal, but in a pinch, you can record your classroom sessions using Zoom. Become familiar with the technology available in your classroom.
Recommendation: Identify alternative assignments that ensure students can still meet the objectives. There are multiple means to assess objectives. If you are not sure the best course of action please contact the CITL at email@example.com and/or discuss your scenario with colleagues and department head.
Recommendation: Use a flipped class format for all students. Record lectures using Mediasite and have all students watch them in addition to their readings before class activities. Those who are out will simply have to do alternative assignments while still getting similar lecture materials.
Faculty are people too and as such are affected by illness, family emergencies, and other unexpected circumstances.
Recommendation: Contact your department head to discuss all possibilities and get approval. Before making any decisions, be sure to contact your department head to discuss your situation. They may have a different perspective or can suggest different resources.
Recommendation: Record screen capture videos, if possible. Being proactive and having a stockpile of screen capture videos will help you as you make changes to deal with life events. Applications like Mediasite allow for the easy recording and sharing of such videos.
Recommendation: Consider asynchronous assignments. Asynchronous assignments like papers, concept maps, discussions, journals, projects, presentations, and others allow both students and faculty flexibility in submission and review.
While we all hope this scenario doesn’t occur, we must be prepared for going fully online at any time during the semester.
Recommendation: Decide if you wish to go online synchronously or asynchronously.
- If you decide to conduct courses fully synchronously, make sure you are comfortable using Zoom on a regular basis, including chat, screen sharing, and breakout rooms. Also be sure to let your students know what your expectations might be. You will also need to consider alternative assignments for those unable to make synchronous times. Remember: just because a student was available for a face-to-face class during a certain date and time, does not mean that circumstances do not change due to unexpected events.
- If you decide to conduct courses asynchronously, be sure you are comfortable using lecture capture applications such as Mediasite.
Recommendation: Have an alternative online assignment for the online environment.
- Not every assignment would or should translate to the online environment. Consider your objectives and how they might be assessed in the online environment.
- Create a communication plan and use the Blackboard Announcement area to encourage students. The main feedback from the students in the Spring was that they didn’t feel in touch with their professors. Students need to know (1) you are still there for them and (2) you care about them and their success.
Recommendation: Email students, hold virtual office hours, or add an announcement weekly to touch base.
In the announcements, add encouraging messages such as “Keep up the good work!” or “Glad to see everyone is doing the reading!” The encouragement shows students you are attentive to their performance.