Teaching Continuity

Campus closures due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances may sometimes prevent classes from meeting. In preparation for such disruptions, please review the following advice and resources. For additional support in developing a contingency plan based on your course needs, please contact TLT’s Instructional Design Team (IDT) at idt@unr.edu.

Please contact us via email, as we will most likely be providing support remotely in any scenario in which campus is closed.

General advice for faculty

Plan for disruptions: Check with your department to learn more about their plans/expectations for responding to campus or building closures. Consider how you will address emergencies in your classes. When possible, state in your syllabus how you plan to let students know what procedures you will implement if classes are cancelled. Sample syllabus text:

Policy in the Case of Campus Closure:
In the event that class is cancelled due to inclement weather or other unforeseen disruption, please log in to WebCampus prior to our class time to see if an alternate, online activity or online class meeting has been posted. As long as electricity and internet are available, an attempt will be made to make up for lost class time using online tools.

Keep informed about the closure or event: Campus closures or emergencies will be reported on our campus homepage (www.unr.edu). Your department may also provide additional details about the situation for your classes.

Leverage the LMS: Remember that all courses have a WebCampus course shell automatically created each term; this system will help you manage communication with your students and provides a platform to share course materials.

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 them in terms of checking email and WebCampus.

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 as much detail as you can provide.

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.

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 as emergency situations may make it difficult to introduce new tools and approaches.

Create a more detailed 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 and how soon they can expect a reply.

Virtual instruction options using WebCampus* and Zoom

Strategy WebCampus Zoom/Kaltura
Communication with your students will be especially important if regular classes are disrupted. Announcements provide an easy way for faculty to be in touch with students. Students receive Announcements in their email by default, but since they have the ability to opt out, direct them to the student guide to notifications to make sure they’re opted in to receive your Announcements in case of emergency. Zoom video conferencing can be used to communicate with a class or to conduct one-on-one meetings with students. A Zoom recording can be saved and used later.
Use synchronous tools for realtime lecture or discussion outside of class. Chat will allow for real-time, text-based communication with students, to answer student questions or facilitate a discussion. A history of your chat is recorded so you can refer to it later. Zoom video conferencing can be used to conduct live class sessions, including presentations by guest lecturers and breakout rooms for student discussion. A Zoom recording can be saved and made available later if students are unable to attend the meeting in real-time.
Use asynchronous tools to allow students to learn and interact with content and each other at their own pace.

*About WebCampus: IDT offers a variety of workshops on using WebCampus tools. Sign up at the TLT Workshops and Training page or contact IDT to be added to the online, self-paced “WebCampus Basics” workshop or to set up a consultation.