When you realize you have to move your class online quickly, consider the following right away. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) requires the following: Students must receive instructions from each of their course instructors about how they will conduct classes, including achievement of learning outcomes or competencies.
We know that this is a stressful time, so please don't overwhelm yourself. This guide can help you get your course functioning, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. And we have resources and support teams to help you.
Identify plans early
Consider addressing emergencies and expectations in your syllabus, so students know what will happen if classes are cancelled, including procedures. Consider doing this each semester, so you are ready in case of an emergency. Example:
Get details about the closure or event
Campus closures or emergencies will be reported on WSU’s website, including estimates of how long you may need to teach your course online.
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 (WSU's learning management system). Every WSU course has an associated Canvas section assigned each semester, not visible to students until you publish it. This is the preferred mode of communication with your students.
Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often. Tell students which message system you’ll use (eWeber email, Canvas Inbox, Canvas Announcements), how often you expect them to check messages, and how quickly they can expect your response.
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 items 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.
Portions of the guidance on this page are adapted, with permission, from the Indiana University keepteaching.iu.edu website. “Keep Teaching” content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License by the Trustees of Indiana University.