Flexible Teaching Strategies for Course Continuity

Posted: February 26, 2015 by Mary Carney


When our classes get cancelled because of inclement weather or emergency situations, good planning and technology tools can be leveraged to maintain continuity of instruction. Planning, communication, and a flexible approach to teaching and learning can help students enhance their knowledge and skills throughout the semester without interruption.

Plan for Alternative Lessons: Almost every semester, there are interruptions in the course schedule. Professors attend conferences. Inclement weather closes campuses. Emergencies arise. Whatever the reason for a change in the schedule, plan for effective communication and flexible ways to deliver course materials and engage students.

Establish a Communication Protocol: On your syllabus and in the early days of class, review your class communication procedures. Be sure to inform students they must check eLearning and/or email when class is cancelled. Make sure students know in advance they are accountable for material covered virtually. Communicate to your students the learning outcomes and value of the alternative learning activity.

Make Class Materials Available to Students Online: Even if you don't teach online or blended courses, it's wise to get familiar with eLearning (D2L / Bright Space) and its tools. When inclement weather strikes, you can use dropbox, discussions, and web conferences to keep students engaged and learning. Upload lectures via Camtasia, OR transfer your written lectures into online modules using the easy web authoring software SoftChalk. Contact DETI: Distance Education and Technology Integration for assistance.

Teaching Ideas:

  • Post a discussion thread asking students to identify the clearest and muddiest points in their reading assignment. Use this to respond and illuminate.
  • Ask students to blog, discuss, or upload in Dropbox their first drafts of an upcoming assignment.
  • Create a low-stakes exam to help them think through course materials (and help you see what might be addressed in your next face-to-face meeting).
  • Ask students to watch an educational video from our library database Films on Demand and then respond to specific prompt in a discussion or blog .
  • Provide a reading frame about an assignment. Students must copy the frame, fill in the blanks with their answers, and upload into dropbox: "The author's main point in this essay/chapter is (fill in blank). The evidence s/he provides to support his/her view is (fill in blank). On the other hand, those with an alternative point of view argue that (fill in blank). In essence, the issue seems to be (fill in blank). From my own personal vantage, I think that (fill in blank). The reasons for my stance are (fill in blank).
  • WebQuest: (Update: The WebQuest website is now defunct.) These activities can help students identify, synthesize, and be creative in their application of course knowledge. Choose a topic that has some strong online content. Give students a specific task to achieve through online research. See San Diego State University's WebQuest site for ideas and rubrics.

UNG's DETI (Distance Education and Technology Integration) can help you master tools that will be invaluable when classes are cancelled (and even when you're just extending class experiences online).

  • Blackboard Collaborate: These tools are integrated into eLearning (D2L/Bright Space) and provides a way to communicate through synchronous text chat, voice, and video.
  • Respondus: Create and manage exams and test banks. Easy integration with D2L. Respondus is a Windows-based authoring tool that integrates well with many learning management systems.
  • SoftChalk: Author your course lectures and activities with this easy tool.
  • Study Mate: Create learning activities and games with this Windows authoring tool.

You may also want to have a hallway chat with a colleague who has been certified in Quality Matters online course design. Here's a list of UNG Quality Matters Certified Faculty.

Good planning and communication can make flexible learning days an enriching and refreshing experience for students and professors.

Establishing Connection...