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During the Semester

During the semester, you can take additional preparedness steps that may help ensure your ability to continue instruction even in the wake of a disruption.

Gathering and Securing Contact Information
During the first week of class or after the add/drop period, faculty are encouraged to access Blackboard and confirm student enrollment. Then document and safely store student email addresses and phone numbers.

Faculty are also encouraged to collect alternate contact information for students including:

  • Alternate email addresses
  • Primary phone number
  • Secondary phone number(s)

If you are using Blackboard, you can use the assignment feature to collect this information. This will ensure alternate contact information is available in one place. You may also consider creating an email distribution list with student’s alternate email addresses.

Note: Please be sure to destroy student contact information according to FERPA guidelines.

Lastly, to keep open lines of communication, you may also record contact information of the key people in your department and school (for example, your department head and administrative assistant), including names and primary and secondary email addresses and phone numbers.

Continue to Back Up Critical Class Materials
This may include student submission, including assignments, discussion or form posts, email messages, and any feedback you have provided. Encourage students to do the same. They should back up a copy of the syllabus, class schedule, all materials they submit to you, your feedback and their grades.

When possible, it is also helpful to keep grades current within Blackboard.

Practice Alternate Forms of Instruction
Your class activities may vary depending on the subject you are teaching and the kinds of teaching methods you use. However, the following may be core categories of class activities that you will want to continue:

  • Communicating with students;
  • Delivering course content;
  • Encouraging student participation, such as answering questions, discussion, group work, etc.; and,
  • Administering assignments, tests and grades.

When classroom instruction is interrupted, you will need to rely on Blackboard and other alternate methods and tools to continue class activities.

Practicing both your ability to use alternate forms of instruction before a disruption occurs helps ensure your familiarity with various available resources. Possible activities you could try include:

  • Sending a test email to each students’ alternate email address. This email will ensure that students’ inboxes are set up to receive emails from you.
  • Teaching a class through Blackboard. Your students will have the chance to become familiar with the Blackboard environment. If an emergency creates the need to use Blackboard for a class session, students will be prepared to learn through this medium.
  • Teaching a class through Adobe Connect or FreeConferenceCall.com.
  • Posting a class assignment in Google Docs and requiring your students to upload their assignments to Google. This resource could be especially useful if Blackboard is unavailable.