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Online Teaching Quick Start

To quickly transition a course online in the event of an emergency, consider the following first.

  • Make early plans: Do what can be reasonably done in advance of the emergency. Learn about some critical online teaching tools such as Canvas and Zoom by using these tools to do a few things in advance of critical need. If you're already familiar with TRACS, please remember that it is still available for teaching through the end of 2020. Think through how to respond in an emergency so that instruction may continue when classroom meetings are not possible. Address these plans in your syllabus so students know what will happen if the class meetings are cancelled. 
  • Be informed: Campus closures or emergencies are reported via email and the university web site. Faculty may expect to get reliable information in this way including estimates of how long classroom meetings might be suspended. Academic departments may issue more details and guidance about expectations for faculty in the event that a campus or a building closure occurs. 
  • Open communications with students promptly: Prepare to be able to communicate with students in emergencies. Create lists of names and email addresses shortly after the term begins and let students know where to look for emergency contact about the course. Even without set plans, promptly communicate with students to indicate that changes are coming and to reinforce expectations for checking email or Canvas (or TRACS) to know how instruction will continue.
  • Start small: Remember students may be learning to adapt to the emergency, too. Adjust assignment deadlines when necessary and reasonable. Use familiar tools first such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, and Canvas or TRACS to create instructional materials that can be shared online. Consider a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction in the plan. Student engagement will be important and much can be accomplished through email, Zoom, and Canvas or TRACS to keep students connected to learning. Check out the Strategies page on this web site for some additional ideas.
  • Review course priorities: Assess what must be done to continue to meet learning objectives in the course. Consider resequencing the course if classroom meetings will resume in time to complete some activities later. 
  • Be flexible: Circumstances may continue to evolve for the course and the students. Even plan B may eventually require a plan C. Remain flexible and understanding to the potentially complex needs of students to respond to changes in the course and to the underlying emergency. Also plan to ask for help. The Office of Distance and Extended Learning will remain available to assist: distanceed@txstate.edu or 512-245-2322. And take a look at the Remote Teaching and Collaborating Resources for Faculty site posted by the Division of Information Technology at Texas State.