Class Continuity - Students
This page is designed to help you prepare for maintaining continuity of instruction despite inclement weather, natural disaster, health outbreaks or a personal emergency. Regardless of the format your course is in, a campus closure or personal emergency does not need to put the brakes on learning.
All Courses: Student Access
Remember that in the event of weather, health, or disaster-related campus or school closure there may be a need to maintain continuity of learning in alternative ways, such as utilizing online tools or correspondence. Please consider what devices and connectivity you have access to: do you have ready access to: Email? Text messages? Telephone? US Mail? Laptop? Blackboard? Video streaming? Videoconferencing? Keep in mind that if the School of Social Work is still open, students do have access to computers on the 4th floor. You may otherwise have access in a continuum that may affect how you adapt to the situation. Where do you fall on this continuum? It will be helpful to know your options, capabilities and limitations in order to answer any questions your faculty member might have:
Wi-Fi Parking Lots
Some libraries, campuses or organizations may offer "internet parking lots" or wi-fi parking lots where you can park and get online. Here are some resources:
Pratt Library - Baltimore City:
In addition, many campuses, like UMB, are part of a wi-fi network called Eduroam, which means you can get online at any participating campus.
Check your class syllabus for information regarding contacting your instructor. Don't hesitate to use the phone to call them. Need a faculty phone number? Here are some places to check:
Office.com - log in with your @umaryland email address, UMID, password and DUO. Locate or compose an email to your instructor, click on their email address: you can then see their telephone and other contact info.
If you can log into Blackboard and/or UMaryland email, look there for announcements regarding your class(es). Again, be sure to communicate with your instructors if you have limited access, to make sure they are informed.
Keep in mind, within UMaryland email on office.com, you can also configure forwarding so that all email to your Umaryland.edu address is also forwarded to an email of your choosing. Click the Settings gear wheel in upper right, search for Forwarding or click "View all Outlook Setting" in blue near the bottom - to get to the Mail > Forwarding settings. There you can type or paste in your preferred email. Click to enable forwarding, and we recommend keeping a copy of forwarded messages.
It rarely occurs, but in the event of a campus closure due to weather or other emergency circumstances, we want to try to maintain continuity of learning as much as possible. In this case, you and your instructor should communicate about what this might entail and how it might work, based on the students in your class and their access to technology and connectivity, as well as the nature of your class.
Learning online commonly entails some of the same types of activity as traditional classes (readings, viewing online resources and lectures) but may also entail "asynchronous" (ie. not at the same time) activities, such as discussion forums, quizzes, lecture viewing, collaborative work, or synchronous activities, such as live virtual classes using a telephone conference call or video conference using Webex or Collaborate Ultra (see below).
In terms of preparation, the first thing is to establish what tools and connectivity you have access to, and communicate that to your instructor (see the table at the top of this page). You may want to communicate with family, friends, neighbors and/or local libraries or businesses to come up with a plan for how you can accommodate changes. Libraries, with their access to technology, support and relative quiet atmosphere, present some excellent opportunities for online study.
Most students have completed the student Blackboard orientation prior to starting their MSW journey. If for some reason you have not, we highly recommend doing so, as it is always available. This will help you learn about how to get support, get started in Blackboard, navigate, participate, submit assignments, take quizzes and so on.
Try to set aside focused time, just as you would for a face-to-face class, for reading, viewing, listening, and writing.
Live Virtual Class (Synchronous) Sessions
It is possible that your instructor may ask if some students can participate in a live virtual class session either during your normal scheduled class time or at another time that is more convenient to the most students. These sessions can also be recorded so that students who could not make it can view the recording later.
Both Collaborate Ultra and Webex are available for your live class sessions, and your instructor may have a discussion with your class about which tool is better to use.
In order to prepare for these, you should first have established which device and connectivity to which you have access. Next, you will want to keep things like ear buds, headphones and power chargers at the ready. Then, we recommend orienting yourself to these technologies by trying them out. The Blackboard orientation has a section on Collaborate Ultra, Webex and Microsoft Teams, as well as an "always open" collaborate session that you can jump into the try things out, check your microphone, practice using, etc. Also, see the page on Collaborate Ultra for students.
Note that both Collaborate and Webex allow participants to dial in from any standard telephone.
This option is presented to all upon entering the session.
Webex is also available to all SSW students, faculty and staff.
There are a few steps you will have to do to get started with Webex:
- Head to umaryland.webex.com and click the blue Sign In on the top-right corner.
- Enter your UMaryland email address and click Next.
- You will be taken to the authentication screen. Enter your UMID credentials and click Login. You will have to authenticate via Duo.
- Once authenticated, you will be taken to Webex Control Panel for your account. Here you will see your Webex Personal Room link. On this page you can do the following:
- Copy your Webex Personal Room link for future use. Note: It is a persistent URL so it will not change.
- Immediately start a meeting
- Download the Cisco Webex Meetings app (We recommend this for easier access and better quality.)
- While on this page, take a few moments to visit the Preferences tab. You can change your persistent URL, set up a unique pin number and configure audio and video settings.
- You can also log into your own Webex meeting and practice: muting/unmuting, sharing your screen, posting a chat message, etc...
It is highly recommended whenever possible to use headphones or earbuds - not external speakers. The use of external speakers is likely to create a frustrating echo. Be sure keep your microphone muted whenever you aren't speaking or asking a question. Be sure to allot extra time in the beginning to work through audio issues and log in at least 10 minutes early to work out any tech issues.