When you realize you have to move your class online quickly, consider the following right away.

  • Communicate with your students right away: Even if you don't have a comprehensive plan in place, reiterate the communication plan you provided at the start of the semester. Do this as soon as possible. Inform students that updates to expectations and assignments may be coming and tell them to check their email or Blackboard for updates.
  • Review your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities during the disruption—providing lectures (live or recorded), communicating with students, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, and project/lab activities. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think.
  • Review your syllabus for points that must change: What will have to temporarily change in your syllabus (policies, due dates, assignments, etc.)? Since students will also be thrown off by the changes, they will appreciate details whenever you can provide them.
  • Continue meeting with students through Zoom at your regularly scheduled class time: Even if they are attending classes remotely, students are still taking 4–5 classes and need to schedule their time. Hold your remote class at the scheduled class time to maintain a sense of continuity for both you and your students.
  • Identify your new expectations for students: You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations: illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
  • Pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students: Try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students and roll out new tools only when absolutely necessary. If a closure is caused by a local crisis, it may be already taxing everyone's mental and emotional energy; introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning.
  • Create a more detailed communications plan: Once you have more details about changes in the class, communicate them to students, along with more information about how they can contact you (email, online office hours, etc.). A useful communication plan also lets students know how soon they can expect a reply. They will have many questions, so try to figure out how you want to manage that.