Weatherproof Your Course

Blackboard Logo snowed in image

Winter is Coming – Don’t let your courses get buried in the snow!

Winter snow and icy roads in New England are inevitable, but just because the school is closed doesn’t mean learning needs to stop. Many of us were caught off guard last spring when we lost significant class time due to bad weather conditions. The storms especially impacted one-night-a-week courses. Here are some suggestions and tips to weatherproof your courses.

 

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Helpful tips to weatherproof your course.

  • Make your Blackboard course shell available a week or two early to give students access to course materials. Refer to the Beginning of Semester Checklist for help.
  • Show students how to access your course shell
    Confirm they know how to access and navigate Blackboard. Refer students to the Blackboard Student Orientation course.
  • Communicate expectations to your students
    Put something in your syllabus to prepare them for alternative solutions. Choose what works best for you and be explicit both in your syllabus and in class about your expectations during official campus closures.

    • SAMPLE TEXT FOR YOUR SYLLABUS
      Weather Cancellations: In the event that class is cancelled due to inclement weather, please log in to our Blackboard site prior to class time to see if an (optional) alternate, online assignment has been posted. As long as we all have electricity, an attempt will be made to make up for lost class time using online tools.In the event of bad weather or another kind of emergency, Northern Essex Community College may be required to close one or all of its campuses.There are several ways to find out whether the college is closed:

  • Set clear guidelines on due dates
    Your students should know what is expected of them. Should students be required to complete assignments and quizzes by the scheduled due date if the college is closed? We hope that the default answer is “yes.” But don’t expect your students to think along those same lines. Again, be explicit when crafting your course’s policy on campus closure.
  • Let students know how to contact you
    If you’re going to expect students keep learning while campus is closed, students will be expecting you to keep teaching. Consider how you will stay in contact with students when you’re stuck at home. Should students call you with questions, email, or text you? You can decide what works best for you.
  • “Pre-package” one or two lessons, recorded lectures, videos, or supplemental readings in the event of a campus closure
    This will require planning ahead of time, in terms of preparation, but having these lessons ready to go will save you time in the long run.
  • Use the best delivery method for you
    You should begin thinking about how you will deliver the lessons to your students. Is it something that can be emailed or would you rather use Blackboard to deliver the lessons to students?

Use Blackboard and other free technology tools to stay on track when class is canceled!

  • Synchronous Tools (students are working concurrently)
    • Virtual Classroom The Virtual Classroom environment includes a shared White Board, a Group Browser, a Question and Answer box, and a Map that can be used to navigate to places in the course.
    • Real-time Chat For a simple, text-based chat with your students, consider taking advantage of Blackboard’s chat feature. With Chat you can answer student questions in real time and facilitate a discussion. Blackboard also keeps a record of chat history so that you can refer to it later. Chat is a good one-to-one tool for virtual office hours. Experiment with it to find out what works best for you and your students.
    • Skype messaging, meetings, and screen sharing all in one app that works with Office Outlook.

 

  • Asynchronous Tools (students are working independently)
    • Blackboard Announcements Keeping your students informed on timely issues in your course is critically important to their continued success. This video shows you how to create an announcement in your Learn course, how to immediately send notification of the announcement to your students, and how to reorder announcements so they appear in your desired order.
    • Blackboard Messages The course messages tool provides you with a familiar, email-like environment that you can use for course communication. However, unlike email, you can only access this private and secure text-based form of communication by logging in to your course. This eliminates external factors such as incorrect or out-of-date email addresses.
    • Blackboard Mobile Learn This mobile app takes interactive teaching and learning to the mobile device, giving students and teachers instant access to their courses and content anywhere.
    • Blackboard Texting will be coming soon! We’ll keep you posted.
    • Blackboard Journals are a personal space for students to communicate privately with you about their opinions, ideas, and concerns about your course, or discuss and analyze course related materials.
    • Blackboard Blogs are an effective means of sharing knowledge and materials created and collected by the group in the course.
    • Blackboard Wikis provide an area where students can collaborate on content. Users within a course can create and edit wiki pages that pertain to the course or a course group.
    • Kaltura is integrated into Blackboard and allows students to view and share online videos. You can record video from the Blackboard course content editor and upload it directly to Kaltura. Kaltura can also be used as a lecture capturing software that allows lectures to be recorded for viewing online by students at a later time. Faculty can record audio, video, and desktop screenshots.
    • Social Media Tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook allow you to go where the students already are! You can create a Twitter feed for your class and ask the students to follow you. It’s possible to create private LinkedIn and Facebook pages for your class.

 

Some references and content adapted from: