Various emergencies can create a potential time period in which face-to-face teaching could be interrupted. First and foremost, we need to pay attention to the physical aspect of emergency procedures. However, at an institution devoted to higher learning, it is also important for faculty to be prepared to use alternative methods of teaching in case remote instruction is required. Most importantly, we highly recommend preparing in advance in case the need arises. Here are steps faculty can take to ensure continuity in course instruction if necessary. Please note that all tools and resources for strategies discussed below and more can be found on our Chapman Course Continuity Plan webpage.
- Plan in advance. Consider possible scenarios. If you suddenly need to teach remotely, how will you communicate with students? If you need to share materials, what is your plan? If your syllabus activities need to be changed for remote instruction, how can you do so while still supporting your learning outcomes? Consider whether your instruction will be synchronous, such as live webinars or video conferences, or asynchronous, such as file sharing, discussion boards, assignments, quizzes, or both styles. Consider whether your students have access to the Internet and necessary platforms. If students will have low Internet access, is there a way to make use of phones (while following FERPA standards) or other communication paths? Plan for various scenarios. Please note that your Learning Management System (LMS, meaning Canvas or Blackboard) is the recommended space for communication, material sharing, and grading if Internet access is available.
- Communicate the plan and practice it in advance. Whatever you choose, take time to learn the technologies you will need and help your students to practice, as well. Make sure students know in advance how you intend to communicate and supply them with instruction and materials. By practicing with your students, you and your students will be prepared and can make important changes to contact information and the accessibility of platforms. If you are not already using an LMS (the most likely space for instructor-student interaction), it’s a great idea to start learning how to communicate and post materials on Canvas prior to any disruption that may occur. Blackboard is appropriate, too, if you’re already familiar with it. If you’re choosing alternative practices, make sure students are clear about your chosen platform.
- Digitize learning content. Have and/or learn how to create digital copies of files and materials, and learn how to make digital content, such as recorded lectures and audio. If office hours or meetings are required for supplemental instruction, find an appropriate video conference tool. See specialized instruction on our Course Continuity Plan.
- Consider and communicate assessment changes. There may be some assessment activities that need to change due to the shift in learning environment. Consider how to uphold the integrity of your intended course learning outcomes and established expectations while making necessary alterations in assessment. If you haven’t yet, learn how to create and grade assignments on your LMS, or make sure students understand any other assignment and grading avenue you plan to use.
- Make learning engaging and collaborative. Online environments may make students feel distant from their learning. Being able to engage students and help them collaborate with each other can lessen the distance. Learn tools for student engagement and collaboration in online environments. As mentioned above, our Course Continuity Plan suggests several tools that are available for online engagement and interaction.
- Add context to all materials and communication. Since the emergency might limit face-to-face interaction, it won’t be as easy for faculty to explain expectations and requirements. Students need extra context written into each item shared. For example, add context to readings (Why are they reading it? What should the focus be? When should they complete the reading?) and assignments (due dates, explicit instructions, rubrics, etc.). This will help guide the student learning experience in a remote instructional situation.
Whatever level you’re starting from, take time to plan for and add to your remote teaching repertoire. You and your students will benefit greatly, and you may even find new techniques to supplement your face-to-face instruction!