In the past 18 months, there has been a large focus on what to do if students need to miss class. Have you thought about what will happen if you, as the educator, need to miss class? Have you made any plans for that possibility? Thankfully, with OAKS, if you plan correctly, your class can run without you for a bit, if necessary!

During the pandemic, it would not be unlikely for someone to have an emergency, for even a week or more. While many of us are vaccinated, there are still certainly breakthrough cases as well as family members you may need to care for. You may find yourself in a position where you are unable to plan for or conduct class, if you have to be out. While your department will help figure out what to do if you will have a longer absence; it may be helpful to have your students continue with their work until more permanent plans can be made or until you can return to “normal.” You do not want to be scrambling to create and post plans when you can’t keep your eyes open! However, if you create a few emergency class plans, you can be in much better spot to simply turn on (or have a colleague turn on) instructions for your class rather than having to plan something when you are sick or caring for someone else.

Tips for making emergency plans:

  • Make them ahead of time. Plan now so that it will be easier, later. This whole concept only works if you plan ahead.
  • Make them maintenance free. You do not want to be constantly updating your emergency plans, so think of a plan that could be appropriate at any time during the semester. Once you develop a set of plans, you should be able to use them for several years, as well as share them with one another.
  • Make them relevant. While you want to make the plans as maintenance free as possible, they also still need to be relevant and not simply a time filler. Emergency class plans can give you the perfect opportunity for extending content and covering material you do not always get to cover.
  • Make them accessible. If your class is online, you will easily be able to put a note in your OAKS class. If your class is face to face, hopefully you still use OAKS to help organize your class, and students are likely to check there. You might want to set up this expectation at the beginning of the semester. In OAKS, you can keep the emergency material hidden until you need it. If you don’t use OAKS at all, you could always email the class or have a colleague leave a note in the classroom.
  • Make them have an appropriate title. Refrain from using the word emergency in the title of your material since it may make the students feel like it isn’t important.

Ideas to get you started:

  • A work/study session. A work/study session may work for one class, but you don’t want to do that for an entire week—hence the need for real emergency plans.
  • Work on research/academic journal skills. Have students summarize journal articles that you provide or have them find their own relevant articles!
  • Work on choice/creativity projects where students can show what they know. Students can use whatever method they want to produce learning materials from past material or upcoming material. For example, they might make infographics, a video, a PowToon or other animation, game, test questions or other assessments or they might simply summarize the material.
  • Online interactives, case studies, and real-world examples that involve your content are excellent sources for emergency plans.
  • Use your discussion boards! This is a fabulous tool all the time, but very useful in this situation. Using any of the ideas above, students could post the assignment to the discussion board, and then comment or collaborate on one another’s post. For example, in the first class meeting, students find an appropriate journal article and list the appropriate bibliographic information, correctly formatted. They should read several articles to find the most applicable one, and you could specify no repeated articles. In the next class meeting, they discuss the information in X number of posts, and in the third class meeting, they summarize their article or one of the other articles as well as the significance of the article. They can also edit one another’s work in the discussion board.
  • Another way to use the discussion board tool, would be to have students post questions/content that they are struggling with, requiring students to post as well as answer someone else. You should tell students to correct one another or add citations if they are disagreeing on the content. Students are often excellent teachers to one another because they know where someone is likely to misunderstand. Repeating content in a different way is beneficial to both the learner and the one providing the information; it’s even better if they are looking up the information to teach it to someone else because then they are learning the information too!

Planning for a future emergency will leave you more comfortable when it really matters. Putting in effort now to plan ahead, will mitigate the circumstances if you have to be out and allow students to continue on their path. Feel free to share ideas and successes about your own situation in the yammer comment section. As always, your instructional technologist is available to discuss these ideas as well as to make sure that you understand how to use OAKS to help you. They are only an e-mail away!