How to work with the unexpected: Continuing your course when you can't make it to class

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A disruption in your regular schedule, though infrequent, can happen. A high rate of absenteeism can interupt your class, cause difficulty in submitting assessments, and make team collaboration more challenging. Effectively and efficiently maximizing your use of Quercus and other institutionally-vetted tools can help to alleviate some of these difficulties.

Before you think about tools and techniques, it helps to define and focus your strategy (which could be related to technology or it might not). If you need to move online both unexpectedly and fast, here are a few questions to consider: 

  1. What do your assessments for the rest of term look like? If the goal is to mitigate stress and upheaval for your students, addressing upcoming assessments is a key place to start (especially if deadlines or submission requirements (see “consider configuring upcoming assessments for digital submission via Quercus”) have changed.
  2. How will you give students opportunities to practice what they have learned and how will you provide feedback? Quercus offers a number of collaboration tools that enable your students to interact with you and with each other. You can record audio or video, or annotate student submissions, using the SpeedGrader tool.
  3. Can you translate the goals of your in class experience to an online space? By keeping your higher level course goals central in your planning process, you’ll be able to focus your efforts on which aspects of your course require the most energy.
  4. What about your final exam (and other high stakes formal assessments)? What makes the most sense for your course? There are options for online proctoring (requires set up and service agreement) or offering a take-home final exam (requires confirmation and approval from department).
  5. How can you share your course content digitally? Review available options to help you continue teaching online.
  6. How will you communicate your intentions to your students and teaching team? After you’ve made your plan, you can use Quercus tools to keep your students in the loop regarding your course.

If you’re thinking about academic continuity and course resiliency in terms of educational technology, you can start by reading our guide on what to consider before you implement education technology within your course.

If you’re ready to review some possible implementation options, you can skip to the overview of education technology strategies (with technical help guides). Major sections include how to:

  1. Track campus closures and updates
  2. Communicate the plan with your students
  3. Download and/or test access to applicable EdTech Tools
  4. Transition your course online to continue teaching
  5. Consider granting access to your Quercus course

Depending on your motivation for the above, you might also consider sharing emergency processes and guidelines (see how to "track campus closures and updates").

As you implement, you're encouraged to keep your expectations realistic. Online courses, from scratch, can take months to design and develop and no one has the capacity to drop six new tools (well) into their course at the drop of a hat. Instead, focus on expanding what you are currently doing while adding one or two options that are critical to your course goals. Even on a short time frame, you can offer students short-term, useful learning experience. For them, too, this will be an experiment. Keep in mind that students having varying access to devices and internet connectivity. It will require flexibility and understanding from everyone involved.

You're not alone! Reach out to colleagues to share ideas. Ask your students what works for them. Don't hesitate to contact the Education Technology Office by email (fase.edtech@utoronto.ca) or phone (416.978.1234). The tools mentioned in this article are already established at FASE and we'd be happy to help you build them into your course. 

Article Category: Best Practices