Keep teaching during prolonged campus or building closures

A variety of circumstances might require you to temporarily take your class online with minimal notice: a campus closure, increased absenteeism during a flu outbreak, a family emergency requiring your presence elsewhere, etc. This guide will provide you with some actions to take when making that shift quickly.

The resources listed here provide multiple options for keeping your class running—likely more than any one instructor could use. In order to make the course run smoothly during this time, focus on the most basic elements you need to put in place to meet your short-term instructional objectives. If the situation continues, you can add more activities back in, finding ways to accomplish them online as well.

During any significant crisis, various support units across each campus—particularly in UITS—will have their own plans in place in order to support your emergency teaching needs. That includes anything from extended support from the campus teaching and learning centers and the UITS Support Center to providing hardware and software you may need to keep your course running. Watch for announcements from these groups about assistance they can provide.

General principles

When you realize you have to move your class online quickly, consider the following right away.

  • Identify plans early: Consider addressing emergencies and expectations up front in your syllabus, so students know what will happen if classes are cancelled, including procedures you will implement. Consider doing this each semester, so you are ready in case of an emergency.
  • Get details about the closure or event: Campus closures or emergencies will be reported at Protect IU and your campus homepage, so those are good places to look for information, including estimates of how long you may need to teach your course online. You can check the main UITS webpage or contact the Support Center for information about the current availability of IT services.
  • Check with your department: Your department may issue more details about the situation and guidelines about their expectations for classes. Administrators may want to have many of the department's classes handled in similar ways, so check with departmental leaders before doing too much planning.
  • Communicate with your students right away: Even if you don't have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible, informing them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking email or Canvas (IU's learning management system), so you can get them more details soon.
  • Consider realistic goals for continuing instruction: What do you think you can realistically accomplish during this time period? Do you think you can maintain your original syllabus and schedule? Do you hope students will keep up with the reading with some assignments to add structure and accountability? Do you just want to keep them engaged with the course content somehow?
  • Review your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities during the disruption—providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think.
  • Review your syllabus for points that must change: What will have to temporarily change in your syllabus (policies, due dates, assignments, etc.)? Since students will also be thrown off by the changes, they will appreciate details whenever you can provide them.
  • Pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students: Try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students, and roll out new tools only when absolutely necessary. If a closure is caused by a local crisis, it may be already taxing everyone's mental and emotional energy; introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning.
  • Identify your new expectations for students: You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
  • Create a more detailed communications plan: Once you have more details about changes in the class, communicate them to students, along with more information about how they can contact you (email, online office hours, etc.). A useful communication plan also lets students know how soon they can expect a reply. They will have many questions, so try to figure out how you want to manage that.

For more information and suggestions, contact your campus teaching and learning center.

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Specific strategies to meet your teaching goals

As you make plans for moving your class online during an emergency, focus on what tasks you are trying to accomplish:

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This is document keep in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2019-11-20 14:35:17.

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