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Note: This document was adapted from a document created by Jenae Cohn and Brian Seltzer, Stanford University, California. Their work was outstanding and served as the basis for Hobart and William Smith Colleges guide for Academic Continuity During Disruption.

As you consider how to plan to conduct remote instruction, please consider the following general principles:

  • Prepare your students to conduct class remotely through introducing remote learning tools and practices prior to or early in the disruption.  Students may be unfamiliar with how to access and use tools available to them.  They may require instruction and technical support to set up and use them.  Build your own knowledge of the tools, know where the resources are to answer in-depth questions, and consider introducing the tools to students prior to the disruption.
  • Manage expectations early and frequently.  Clearly articulate the temporary changes to method they can expect and reassure students you are still present in a meaningful if not non-literal sense. Ensure students know how you plan to communicate with them to disseminate information, receive content from you, and what the classroom deliverables you expect from them.  Also clearly articulate how often you will be contacting them and how quickly they can expect a response from you
  • Manage your communication load:  You will likely receive many individual requests for information that can potentially be useful to all your students.  Consider forwarding the answers to frequently asked questions to the entire class.  Another technique is to send a summarized email to the group per day rather than an individual reply.
  • Rearrange activities to ensure impactful activities relevant to the remote material are front-loaded.  If possible, move activities where face-to-face interaction is required to after the disruption.
  • Determine right mix of synchronous & asynchronous activities to ensure video conferencing and live chat occur as close to normal class times as possible to reinforce normalcy.  Use activities like discussion boards and short writing assignments in the event of disrupted schedules and time zone differences.
  • Prepare supplemental material:  If your instruction requires classroom videos/handouts or a heavy usage of the white board, those may not translate well through a video and may require supplemental material.  Supplemental material provided prior to the lecture tends to prepare students and assist in their understanding prior to and during remote lectures.
  • Continue to make material accessible for students who have academic accommodations for text to speech delivery, enlarged font size, and other adjustments.  Create remote content in accordance with Universal Design Learning (UDL) principles.
  • Prioritize digital resources so students can still access course content and learning without the need for physical resources or unavailable or minimal support. Library subject guides have sections linking to digital resources; see also the guide on Open Education Resources (OER)
  • Consider alternate exams:  Delivering a secure exam online through HWS provided tools is an option available during disruption.  Also, consider giving open-book exams, short quizzes, or alternate formats like a reflective essay.  They may be harder to grade but may be more appropriate given the circumstances and length of a disruption.
  • Be flexible with access, delivery, and assignment due dates.  Students will have varying access to computers, materials, and bandwidth based off location and financial hardship.  Handle each individual circumstance with fairness and discernment and avoid ‘one size fits all' solutions.