Inclement Weather and Emergency Continuity

Introduction

This page is designed to help you navigate and use a variety of tools during inclement weather or a personal emergency. Regardless of your course's format, a campus closure or personal emergency does not need to put the brakes on learning. With the ubiquity of digital connectivity, access to Blackboard, and a variety of complementary tools, you have several synchronous and asynchronous options to offer learning continuity for your students.

Important

During a campus emergency or inclement weather, up-to-date information is available online at www.umaryland.edu/alerts or by calling 410-706-8622.

Additionally, you may add your cellphone to receive UMB Alerts - Emergency Messaging via text message.

Emergency Course Preparedness Guide

All Courses: Student Access

Remember that in the event of a weather, health, or disaster-related closure, there may likely be students who do not have power or Internet connection as well as those who do not have ready access to technology tools or connections. It is vital to discuss with your class what the common denominator is, in terms of access to technology devices and connections. You may want to also collect information about how best to reach students in the case of a campus closure: email? Text message? Telephone? US Mail? You could discuss in class, or, in order to maintain more privacy, conduct a survey in Blackboard or Qualtrics of your class. Also keep in mind that if the School of Social Work is still open, students do have access to computers on the 4th floor. Students may have access in a continuum that may affect how your class adapts to the situation:

If you choose to hold a live, virtual class, the best practice would be to send an announcement that the virtual class is still being held (include a reminder of the meeting time) but also to record and then make the recording available in Blackboard. Both Collaborate and Webex can record your sessions.

Syllabus

Planning for campus closures can be covered in your syllabus. If you expect students to be available to meet online if the campus is closed during a regularly scheduled class time, communicate these expectations there. Be sure you know how to upload a file to your course - be it a syllabus, set of slides, reading, etc.

Announcements

Announce Contingency Plans - Presumably, students enrolled in on-site courses have already committed their week to a scheduled time for class. If there is any change to this schedule, it is in your and their best interest to broadcast what, if any, alternate plans have been made as soon as the campus has announced a closure. For good measure, display it as an announcement on the course home page and simultaneously send it in an email. (This is done from the Announcements tool.)

Please note: if your home internet and/or power are ever down and you need to get a quick message out to students, please call 410-870-9663 (The IDEA Helpline) and tell us your name, your course number (SOWK 631, for example) AND YOUR SECTION (AY1, HY2, SG2, SY2, etc...) so that the IDEA Team can help you most efficiently get a message to students. If this is after hours/on the weekend, we may get to if the next business day, it depends on the availability of IDEA Team members.

For example, if you plan on holding a live, virtual class at the same time as your face-to-face class, give students enough notice so it’s reasonable for them to have checked announcements, logged in and checked their set up (audio, video, connection speed, etc.) before the scheduled class time.

Example Email Announcement

Due to the campus closure, we will be meeting tomorrow via Collaborate Ultra at our regular course time: 1:30 PM. For those of you who are new to using Collaborate, please read through this document and be sure you have the Google Chrome browser installed to use. It is best to use headphones, earbuds or a headset to prevent audio issues. (You can join the room by clicking Collaborate Ultra in our course in Blackboard... or The link for for our online session will be coming in a separate email & it will also appear as an announcement on our course home page.)

Setting Up a Discussion Forum

Control Panel > Course Tools > Discussion Board > Create Forum

Creating a discussion forum is a great idea to encourage online participation from students.

    1. In the Discussion Board section, click the Create Forum button.

    2. Under Forum Information, type in a name and description. Using the content editor, you may also add an image or links, etc. to your description. Image

    3. By default, the forum is available to users, but if you want the forum to be available during a specific date range, enter the date range in the Availability section. Image

    4. Select the desired forum settings by clicking in the checkboxes.

    5. Click the Submit button to create the new forum.

Here are some general tips from Blackboard to help you develop successful online discussions to help build community and fulfill assignments:

Define participation requirements.

    • Share your expectations. Create a discussion where students can read about etiquette and access grading information.

    • Model proper online interaction and reinforce appropriate behavior with public recognition.

Craft an effective question.

    • Incorporate multimedia resources into your questions to reduce the monotony of purely text-based interactions. With the popularity of services like YouTube™, you can ask students to view a clip and ask for responses.

Encourage new ideas.

    • If discussion posts contain too much agreement and not enough questioning of ideas, assign students with the last names A-M to support one side and N-Z to support the other.

Moderate.

    • Establish your presence. Ask for clarification, resources, or input from silent participants.

Create New Recordings

Another option is to record something from your desk, office, or home using Audacity, Collaborate, MyMediaSite, Voicethread, or Webex and then post the content on your course site.

audacity
collaborate
Used for:
audio only
audio, video, screen sharing, live chat
audio, video, screen sharing, live chat
audio, video
audio, video, screen sharing, live chat
easiest to add slides, complete and post

x

x

x

requires more technical ability

x

record narration separately for each slide in lecture

x

x

record lecture in a single recording (all at once; one take or stop-and-start)

x

x

x

x

record virtual whiteboards or desktop applications (i.e., screencast)

x

x

x

edit audio after recording

x

update slides and/or slide-by-slide narration easily from year to year

x

x

stream live to students as well as record archive

x

x

x

record audio MP3 only; optionally, provide slides in separate digital file

x

requires broadband internet connection

x

x

x

x

live captioning

x

x

x

About the Tools

Zoom is one of the three communication tools used at the university for synchronous communication. Blackboard Collaborate and Webex are the other tools. On this page, you will learn various tips and tricks to help you navigate zoom and be more effective. UMB CITS has introductory Zoom info here to get you started. Be sure to think about students' needs for interactivity: this video documents some thoughts students have about synchronous virtual classes. Zoom has a wonderful support page that can address a number of questions and concerns. Technical support is provided by UMB CITS at 410-706-HELP or help@umaryland.edu and be sure to check their information page.

collaborate

Collaborate Ultra is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to record your voice, video, and slides and make the recording available to students. It is already in every course. Here are instructions to make a video recording for students. This is perhaps the easiest and quickest way to make a recording but does not allow easy editing.

Voicethread is a handy tool for uploading slides and recording your voice, video, and/or text to go along with each slide. You can easily delete and re-record comments, edit and replace a slide and update these from year to year. To get started, set up an account at https://voicethread.com/register and you can set up 3 threads on a free account. You can also email slides to ideateam@ssw.umaryland.edu to set you up threads. Here's a demonstration of a Voicethread.

While the IDEA Team doesn't provide direct support for Webex (sswmediacenter@ssw.umaryland.edu, 410-706-5127), we do use it frequently, and have some tips to share! Be sure to think about students' needs for interactivity: this video documents some thoughts students have about synchronous virtual classes.

John Hopkins logo

Much of this was adapted from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health teaching toolkit page: https://sites.google.com/site/ctltteachingtoolkit/for-faculty/inclement-weather

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