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When you realize you have to move your class online quickly, consider the following:

Identify plans early

Consider addressing emergencies and expectations upfront in your syllabus, so students know what will happen if classes are canceled, including procedures you will implement. Consider doing this each semester, so you are ready in case of an emergency.

Communicate with your students right away

Communicate with your students as soon as possible, informing them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking email or Canvas. 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.). Students will have many questions, so try to figure out how you want to manage that.

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? 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 introduce new tools only when absolutely necessary. If a local crisis causes closure, it may already be taxing everyone's mental and emotional energy; introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning.

Don't attempt to keep your same schedule

Attempting to conduct a live, online session with your students during your normal class time is not necessarily the best approach. In a crisis, students may not have access to technology or Internet access to participate in synchronous online sessions. Instead, consider breaking your lectures into smaller recordings that students could review asynchronously.

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. You will need to generate a plan for accepting make-up work, taking into account any accommodations you may have to make to treat all students fairly.

Create a 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.

Review online technology resources

Review the links on these pages to become familiar with technologies that may help continue the academic mission during a time of high-absenteeism. Faculty should be aware of how to post a syllabus to their course in Canvas and be familiar with the basic communication tools within Canvas. In addition to the tools and resources provided by SSCC, take time to seek out additional online resources that may be specific to your discipline. The web is full of digital information, interactive simulations, and quality educational content, which can easily be incorporated into your class.

Understand that this is an emergency effort

All of the strategies and information on this website are designed to help you get by in a crisis situation rather than being representative of the best online learning experience possible. This is an emergency measure, not a thoughtful, planned transition to the online environment. When this is all over, remember that your experience was not the standard for what online learning can be.