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Maintaining Learning Continuity in the Event of Planned or Unplanned Class Cancellation

The Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support (CIS) is here to assist you in determining the most effective way to maintain learning continuity and ensure student learning outcomes are met when classes are canceled in advance or unexpectedly.

Below are links to resources, information, and suggestions on how to continue delivering your courses. For technical assistance, additional resources are available on the Office of Information Technology’s Help Desk page.

If additional assistance and consultation are needed, the CIS staff are available to support you. To obtain assistance, please email or call 989-774-3615.

Developing a Plan

Possible areas for consideration, and tips for temporarily adjusting a class session to a remote or online learning environment, include the following:

Online and Remote Delivery Strategies

The following sections offer ideas for online content and strategies. These suggestions were developed by staff in our office, CMU faculty, and incorporate ideas from peer teaching and learning teams across the country (e.g., Suffolk University Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence and Simmons University Faculty Fellows Hub). 

Each idea can be used independently, added to, edited, and/or used in conjunction with elements from other suggestions. This collection is not meant to address every possible scenario, and we recognize that every instructional situation is unique. Precisely which strategies you implement will be a function of the needs of your class, how prepared your students are, and your readiness to use certain tools and systems. 

Adding, Organizing, and Deleting Course Content and Files in Blackboard

Course content and materials (e.g., PowerPoint slides, diagrams/charts projected to the front of the classroom) can be added to the course’s Blackboard shell and made available to students for review and reading. Watch this video overview of basic Blackboard functionality for additional information.

Pre-Recorded Interactive Video Lecture

  • Ensure you have appropriate equipment for recording (e.g., a working microphone and camera). Most laptop and desktop computers have these built in as standard.
  • Configure, download, and open Panopto recording software. For guidance, review this tutorial. For a more comprehensive overview, watch the Recording Quick Start Video.
  • Consider the advice offered on our website for DIY video
  • Record your content, recognizing that the recording may not be perfect and that it will likely be better, especially in the case of an unplanned class cancellation, to provide students an imperfect product than nothing at all.
  • Create a video link in Blackboard or distribute the video link by sending the students an email.

Synchronous (Real-time) Online Class Session Via WebEx or Microsoft Teams

Create a Discussion Forum to Enhance Interaction

One way to spark interaction with and among your students on course-related content is to craft an engaging discussion forum. Begin the forum by informing students what course content the forum covers and then author questions relating to that content for the students to answer. Finally, provide students with response requirements (e.g., the deadline for participation) and guidelines (e.g., how many responses, how long, and depth of participation). Check in on the forum regularly, acknowledge and comment on contributions, and help facilitate the conversation moving. 

Once you have developed the prompt, create the discussion in Blackboard to include an appropriately descriptive title and select the option in the forum settings section to indicate, "Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum." Notify the students the Forum is available. 

An alternate variation of a Discussion Forum over course content is through the use of video. For example:

  • Locate an appropriate video (e.g., from CMU Libraries Kanopy Database, TED Talks, or YouTube).
  • Author questions relating the reading/video content to course content.
  • Author student response requirements.
  • Create a discussion forum with an appropriately descriptive title.
  • Communicate to students.

Create, Receive, Grade, and Return Assignments Online

A Blackboard Assignment provides a secure method for students to submit work, for your grade submissions, and to offer feedback.

Inform your students of the assignment due date, requirements, etc. As submitting assignments in Blackboard may be new to some students, sharing the Submitting Online Assignments tutorial with them may be helpful.

As students upload their work, the submissions will be available to you in the course’s Grade Center. Several options are available for providing comments and detailed feedback to students, as well as sharing their grade.

Create and Deliver Online Assessments (Quizzes and Tests)

Blackboard includes a robust toolset for delivering objective assessments (e.g. quizzes and tests) online. If test integrity is a concern, using Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor (LDB/RM), which are integrated with Blackboard, can provide additional layers of security for higher-stakes tests. Before enabling additional security (e.g. LDB/RM) please be aware that doing so introduces additional requirements on students. Specifically, LDB/RM, works only on PCs and Macs, and iPads, if specifically enabled. Other devices (e.g. smartphones, Chromebooks, Android tablets, etc.) are not compatible. Determining your students’ current situations can help to inform how to best proceed. Therefore, before requiring a standard test using LDB/RM, you may also want to consider alternate assignments to tests and exams.

As completing quizzes or tests online may be a novel experience for your students, it will be necessary to inform students of a test’s or quiz’s availability, and may also be helpful to provide the students with this tutorial that addresses taking tests online

After students have completed the test, the results will be available to you in the course’s Grade Center.

Maintain Contact with Students

It is important to maintain contact with your students throughout your course via regular communications and course updates. While this can easily be achieved through the “announcements” section of Blackboard, additional options for maintaining connections and creating community virtually are: