As instructors, we try to anticipate problems and challenges that may come up in our courses. One thing we sometimes forget to plan for is weather and natural disasters. Do your students know what is expected of them in a situation when class must be cancelled? Of course it is impossible to predict whether our semester will go as planned, or if it will be interrupted by a single ice day or a long term emergency with a disruption to our College of Charleston services like email or OAKS. Jessica Smith, Instructional Technologist for School of Business, blogged about her firsthand experience with a class cancellation last semester. Though we cannot plan for these unexpected events, we can prepare for them. Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for a worst case scenario:
1) Include a statement in your syllabus.
Do you have a statement about cancelled classes in your syllabus? What are students responsible for if class is cancelled due to weather? This statement should include expectations, an alternate communication plan, and information about student responsibilities and adjusted assignment deadlines.
2) Determine alternate communication procedures.
It is possible that there could be a disruption to campus services like faculty email. To prepare for this unlikely event, make sure you keep a hard copy list of student emails, or save a copy of the classlist to your home computer. Other options that some instructors utilize for class communication, even under normal circumstances, include Twitter, Facebook, Celly, and Remind. It may be beneficial to set up these communication systems early in the semester as an experiment to see if it is a good way to communicate with your students.
3) Plan online methods of content delivery.
If multiple class meetings are cancelled, you will want to be familiar with technologies that will make it possible to deliver course content to students. This may involve finding existing media online or creating your own online lecture. The library has resources to help you find suitable media, and TLT is here to help you navigate the technology options for online lecture delivery. Some options include Kaltura, VoiceThread, and Explain Everything.
4) Know OAKS.
Assuming that all systems are functional on campus, but class is still not in session, you will want to be able to utilize OAKS. Do you know how to post content, embed videos, or create a dropbox for student assignments? If you feel that your OAKS skills could use a refresher, contact your instructional technologist to find out about upcoming scheduled trainings or availability for individual consultations.
5) Back up your files.
This is a no brainer. Make sure you are not reliant on access to the internet, OAKS, or email to prepare for your classes. Keep copies of important lecture or course materials on your computer or a hard drive.
If you would like more information about preparing for the unexpected, make sure you attend TLT’s training sessions on these topics. We will cover these tips in more depth. You can register here: