After preparing a plan for communication, the next most critical step in developing a Continuation of Instruction Plan is course preparation. Instructors may feel that preparing to teach all courses at a distance is a daunting challenge. However, with a few simple steps you will be ready to teach your courses using several delivery methods.

A solid plan will enable you to deliver your course in any of the delivery modes described in Sections 3 and 4. Your plan will include learning objectives, class organization, content and learning activities, and assessment and grading strategies. This is very similar to planning a face to face class.

Even if your course usually requires hands-on work (for example laboratory, studio, or field experiences), think creatively. Focus on your learning objectives, and consider how you could meet these objectives by teaching at a distance.

After completing this section, if you are convinced that your course could not be offered even for a few weeks from a distance, you must contact your chair or director with an explanation. The University will need to be able to anticipate tuition reimbursement costs that will accrue if your course must be canceled.

2.1: Overview

Please complete the following steps:
  • For each of your classes, have a plan for delivering your class at a distance.
  • Your plan will include class learning objectives, content, student activities, assessment, and grading. You will also revise your syllabus
to the greatest extent possible, you should have both electronic and paper copies of your course materials.
  • To help save and organize your materials, consider putting paper materials into 3-ring binders and electronic materials onto flash memory sticks.
  • Create 3 copies of all materials for each of your classes - one to keep at home, one to keep in your office, and one to give to your Director or Chair.
  • If you revise your curriculum, you will need to update all relevant documents and follow the same procedures as mentioned above.
  • Repeat these steps at the beginning of every semester.

2.2: Learning Outcomes Objectives

Your first step will be to formalize the learning objectives for your class. Learning outcomes objectives are simply what you expect your students to learn by the end of your class. Ideally, learning outcomes objectives should be stated in specific and observable terms, and it should be evident to any reasonable observer (including the student) whether a student has achieved an objective or not.

Please complete the following steps:

  • Write learning objectives for every unit of study. Put them into a single electronic file. You will flesh these out in the following steps with supporting content, activities, and assessments.
  • Ask a colleague to review your learning objectives to ensure that they are stated behaviorally, specifically, and measurably.
  • Break your course down into manageable chunks or "units" of study (e.g. weeks or two-week segments). There will usually be approximately equal numbers of learning objectives in each unit.

2.3: Develop or Identify Course Content

The content of your face to face class may include textbooks, written materials, lecture notes, multimedia materials, and the like. Most types of content can be used for distance delivery as well. However if an emergency requires students to leave campus suddenly, they may not be able to bring textbooks. Some web services may be unavailable. Students may use dial-up rather than broadband connections to the internet, which will make some websites difficult to use. However you don't need to write your own content for all of your classes. Instead, consider how you will approach instruction in a variety of situations.

Please complete the following steps:

  • For each learning objective, write down all related content items (e.g. textbook chapter, reading material, lecture, other)
  • For each content element, consider its vulnerability during an emergency.
  • For especially vulnerable elements, consider alternative methods for achieving the related learning objective. Be creative, and focus on the desired learning outcome.
  • Consider preparing two weeks worth of "stopgap" material to use only if an emergency occurs. This material should include content consistent with your class, but could be used at any point during the semester.
  • As much as possible, convert paper-based materials (e.g., your lecture notes) to electronic format. Save on your computer's hard drive in folders organized by course unit.
  • As much as possible, print out electronic materials (e.g. online readings). Organize into units, for example by putting into large 3-ring binders.
  • Remind yourself that your plan will not be perfect. Teaching after an emergency will be challenging and some of your learning objectives may not be met. Do your best, but do not expect the impossible of yourself.

2.4: Student Learning Activities

Many of your objectives will best be achieved by having your students do something other than just read course materials. For example, students may participate in discussions, work on problem sets, or write research papers or essays. Many kinds of activities will be available to your class even if an emergency closes the campus. Discussions can be held using the Webcampus discussion boards, e-mail using the class listserv, and phone discussions. Students will be able to write papers, but some limitations may be imposed (e.g. inability to visit the physical campus library; intermittent access or no access to online library service).

Please complete the following steps:

  • For each learning objective, write down any current supporting activities.
  • For each activity, consider online or distance-based alternatives. What challenges can you anticipate for each during an emergency? (e.g. availability of library or other support services, access to studio or laboratory materials)
  • For especially vulnerable activities, consider alternative methods for achieving the learning objective in question. Be creative, and focus on the desired learning outcome rather than your favorite instructional methods.
  • Write a description of your current activities and possible emergency alternatives. Include these in your course 3-ring binder, and keep a copy on your hard drive.
  • Some classes are heavily weighted towards hands-on student experiences (e.g. laboratory sciences, studio art, field work). If a majority of your course learning outcomes will be unachievable in an emergency situation, let your Chair or Director know as soon as possible. Such courses must be identified prior to an emergency.

2.5: Assessment and Grading

Assessment is a process for identifying the extent to which your students are meeting your learning objectives. Grades are measures of individual students' progress. Grading should be approached as humanely as possible during an emergency. Students may experience illness, injury, hardship or loss as a result of the emergency. Be as lenient and flexible as possible, and keep your focus and theirs on achieving the learning outcomes rather than grades.

Please complete the following steps:

  • For each learning objective, write down any assessments that currently measure progress.
  • For each assessment, consider how you will adapt that assessment method to distance delivery.
  • If your course relies heavily on exams, bear in mind that you will not be able to enforce a closed-book policy or any time limits if students complete exams off-campus. Plan your exams accordingly.
  • Print out any exams or assessment instructions and include in your 3-ring binder. Keep electronic copies on your computer hard drive.

2.6: Syllabus and Course Policies

Once you have completed steps 2.1 through 2.5, your class will be solidly planned and writing your syllabus should be very straightforward.

Please complete the following steps:
  • Check that your syllabus follows your college‚Äôs syllabus requirements. Contact your Department Chair or School Director for a sample syllabus.
  • Include a brief description of your contingency plan. Make sure that your students understand how instruction is expected to continue even if an emergency closes the campus.
  • Put a paper copy of your syllabus in your 3-ring binder, and keep a copy on your hard drive.
  • Your binder should now include:
    • Syllabus and course policies
    • Learning objectives
    • For each learning objective, statement of associated content, activities, and assessments
    • As many of your content materials as possible
    • Descriptions of all activities
    • Descriptions of all assessments and copies of all exams
  • You should have all of the materials in your 3-ring binder available on your computer hard drive, as well.
  • Keep one copy of your binder in your office, one copy at home, and give one copy to your Department Chair or School Director. If possible, include a flash memory stick with copies of your electronically-stored materials with each binder.

Step 3: Preparing to use Webcampus

You are now ready to begin Step 3 - Preparing to use Webcampus.