Contingency planning is important for academic continuity in the case of an extended emergency situation, such as an extended communicable illness like a flu outbreak. During these times the teaching and learning process requires additional preparation, flexibility, inventiveness, and understanding. Virginia Tech's Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning (IDDL) provides these suggestions for faculty to enable the teaching and learning process to continue, even in a time of high absenteeism.
- Consider ways to help students continue their course work even if they cannot come to class by reviewing your course goals and assignments.
- Ensure that all of your students have electronic access to course syllabi and assignments.
- Ensure that you have access to your students' email addresses so that you can stay in contact with them in the event they, or you, are contagious and classroom attendance is medically discouraged. Creating a course LISTSERV, if you do not already have one, prior to a flu outbreak is essential.
- Know where to get technical assistance when needed. (see Support)
- Consider adding the plan to your syllabus for proceeding with teaching during a flu outbreak. Even if you don't specify a plan, explain on the syllabus how you would inform students if you need to make unanticipated changes in the course.
- Have materials, such as classroom handouts, prepared ahead of time. Make sure copies of documents, notes, charts, etc. are posted to your preferred LMS (Scholar or Blackboard) or ready to be sent to students electronically ahead of time. (see Electronic Distribution)
- If you choose to use an email LISTSERV, create your class LISTSERV in advance of a flu outbreak. Ensure that you have access to your students' email addresses from your home so that you can stay in contact with them in the event they, or you, are contagious and classroom attendance is medically discouraged. (see Electronic Distribution)
- Be prepared to answer student inquiries about making up work. There may be many student requests for special accommodations, so have a plan in place that will treat all students equitably and be feasible in the face of large numbers of requests. Please note: in the event of a major outbreak, notes from the Schiffert Health Center may not be feasible.
Keeping the Class Going When You Can't Meet Face to Face
- Post documents and assignments online in place of lectures. (see Electronic Distribution)
- Record the class lecture for students to view later. (See eLearning Tools)
- Narrate a slide show from home for students to access. (See eLearning Tools)
- Substitute Scholar or Blackboard's discussion board or blog tool for class sessions. (See eLearning Tools)
- Use web conferencing to hold online real-time meetings. (See eLearning Tools)
- Locate virtual labs online for students to complete.
- Use case studies in place of labs.