Academic continuity planning begins with asking yourself questions about the preparedness of you, your students and your course during a time of disruption. The key goal is to plan in a way that will help students get the support they need to meet your most essential course objectives. As you create your plan, use the information below to think about how you will address continuity for each of the instructional activities in your course.
On this page, you’ll find helpful tips for getting started, best practices for a successful transition, a guide to technology tools and services and a list of valuable campus resources.
Critical decisions about campus closures can occur with little to no advanced notice. Take time to consider the following steps ahead of time, so you’re ready to promptly move your course online when the need arises.
If Possible, Prepare in Advance
Don’t wait until the last minute. Stay aware of area news and campus updates to get ahead of any critical announcements. Take time to draft a plan of action for your course and an outline for communicating with your students about changes.
Communicate with Students Right Away
Once you are aware of a situation that may impact campus, communicate with your students to assure them that you have an action plan and also to set initial expectations for when, where, and how often they can expect to receive updates about the course, e.g. by checking email or Moodle messages.
Review Your Syllabus & Set Priorities
Restructuring an in-person course for online instruction can seem daunting. Instead be flexible. Rather than trying to address every need, focus on what you can reasonably accomplish within the given timeframe and with the tools and resources provided. Review your syllabus to reprioritize topics, consider how you will keep students engaged through synchronous or asynchronous instruction and determine how you will manage assignments, in addition to other necessary adjustments.
Ensure Student Access to Course Materials
There’s no need to completely reinvent your course. Continue to use familiar resources, workflows and tools like Moodle as much as possible and introduce new processes as needed to avoid further stressors for students, who may already be overwhelmed by a sudden campus closure.
Revise Expectations for Students
Just as your course schedule must be tailored to meet your most urgent demands, your expectations for students must also be realigned. For example, you may need to reconsider how you evaluate in-class participation. Identify policies, deadlines and assessments that must temporarily change in your course and examine how these changes may impact students. Can students without internet access or those suffering an illness meet your expectations? Anticipate and prepare to manage requests for extensions or accommodations equitably. Finally, make sure all changes you make align with university policies before you communicate those updates to your students.
Communicate Your Complete Plan of Action with Students
Once your plan is complete, communicate full details to your students, along with preferred contact information, specifics of when you can be reached and other critical details. As you will likely receive questions, offer students an explanation of when they can expect to receive replies and class updates from you.
Communicate Early & Often
Early and frequent communication with students can ease anxiety and keep everyone on the same page to avoid a barrage of questions. If you have to make a change to your course due to unexpected events, communicate immediately with your students, even if you aren’t sure of your immediate plan.
Things to consider:
- How often will you communicate with students and what tools will you use for communication?
- Consider using Moodle Quick Mail for an easy way to email your student.
- If you get questions from a student, consider responding to the entire class through Moodle Quick Mail.
- How comfortable are you with the tools available for communication? How can you increase your confidence in using these?
Maintain Classroom Community
Fostering communication and collaboration among students can build and maintain a sense of community that can help keep students motivated to participate and learn. Having students participate in a video conference via WebEx is a good synchronous way to meet virtually with your students, but scheduling can be a problem and video conferencing takes up more bandwidth. Consider using an asynchronous tool like Moodle forums that allow students to respond when they can and can be easily used on mobile devices.
Support Students During the Disruption
Consider the different challenges that students may face during course disruption, whether physical, emotional, cognitive or financial, that can impact learning and performance. Students don’t have to be directly impacted by a crisis for it to have a significant impact on their health, well-being and stress levels. When possible, offer all students resources and support when necessary, including additional flexibility to meet deadlines, adjust workloads and the necessary time to adapt to a changing situation.
- Be mindful of the various ways in which a crisis can impact communities and how students from different identity groups (race, ethnicity, age, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation) may respond to a situation. Moreover, consider that some communities may become targets of bias incidents, discrimination and even hate crimes during times of crisis.
- Consider whether and how to discuss the cause of the disruption in class, and how you will prepare for those conversations. The resource Teaching in Times of Crisis from the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching offers valuable tips for discussing local, national and international crises in class. Misinformation spreads easily in times of crisis, and students may have misconceptions about the causes of an issue or about communities that are impacted. When possible, correct misinformation that students may be sharing.
- Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) Self-Help is a completely private online library of behavioral health resources that includes interactive educational modules and practice tools to help you understand and manage how you feel, think and act. It is free to Elon students, faculty and staff.
Distribute Course Materials
You will likely need to provide additional course materials to support your changing plans, from updated schedules to readings that allow you to shift more or all instruction online. In a pinch, providing new readings and related assignments may be your optimal for keeping the intellectual momentum of the course moving.
Collect & Grade Assignments
Use Moodle to distribute and collect student assignments. Moodle lets students submit documents, slides, images, videos and text as assignments. Feedback can be entered directly into Moodle and automatically distributed to students.
Visit the Knowledge Base to learn more about Moodle assignments, including how to give feedback on student work.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has several helpful guides that you can access through Belk Library, including “How to give better feedback to your students with technology.”
Record Lectures & Hold Virtual Office Hours
WebEx is a web conferencing tool that can also be used to record video lectures. The lectures can include presentation slides, images, a virtual whiteboard and video of you. WebEx recordings are automatically uploaded to Kaltura, a video hosting platform that integrates into Moodle.
In addition, WebEx can be used to host virtual office hours to meet with students and colleagues in real time. Students can use a computer with Wi-Fi or a mobile device with a data connection to join a WebEx meeting. Keep in mind that not all students may have the equipment or internet connection to participate in live, face-to-face video. WebEx has an audio call in feature for the phone, removing the need for an internet connection.
Quizzes & More Moodle Features
Use Moodle to assess student understanding with an online quiz. Quizzes can include a time limit, instant feedback, shuffled questions, and for multiple-choice questions, shuffled responses. Learn how to create a quiz in Moodle.
If you’re interested in additional ways to use Moodle, visit Moodle Tools: A Self-Paced Course for Teaching in Online and Blended Environments. Created by Teaching and Learning Technologies, the Moodle course includes more examples and instructions on using Moodle.
New Users: Get Started in Moodle
If you are new to Moodle, the guide below will walk you through initial steps to get started using the tool.
Finding your courses in Moodle
If you are a faculty member and do not see a course in Moodle, it is likely further down the Moodle home page. The link will be gray instead of maroon because all new courses are unavailable to students by default. Course IDs for spring semester courses end in “2003.” Moodle course IDs end with the formula [Last 2 Digits of Calendar Year]+[2 Digit Semester Code], which means spring semester courses end with “2003.”
Making courses available in Moodle
Software Access for Remote Learning
Select software applications offered in Elon’s computer labs may also be available for remote learning through existing open-source downloads, temporary trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other means. Carefully review frequently asked questions below, along with the list of available software applications and how to access them below. If you have questions, contact the Technology Service Desk at 336-278-5200.
Will Elon’s on-campus computer labs be accessible during the two-week period following Spring Break, March 23-April 6?
Yes. Although normal classroom instruction won’t resume until Monday, April 6, campus offices and services will remain open and continue to operate normally, including computer labs.
What software is available for remote learning and how do I access those applications?
Select software applications are available for download and/or temporary access. Please view the complete list, which includes access details and related Knowledge Base articles. Contact the Technology Service Desk at 336-278-5200 if you have questions.
Adobe Creative Cloud is on the list – how do I access it?
Now through May 31, Adobe has provided Elon students and faculty with temporary at-home access to Adobe Creative Cloud to ease concerns about instruction during this time of disruption.
To get started with Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere and other Adobe applications, please follow the instructions below to enable access to Creative Cloud Desktop Apps on your personal device.
- Visit https://creativecloud.adobe.com and use your school credentials to sign in.
- If prompted, select Company or School Account and then enter your password. Or enter your Elon email username and password on the university’s login screen.
- From the Creative Cloud website, browse for and download your desired application. Click Apps on the top of the page to view all available apps.
For more information on how to download or install apps, see Download and Install Creative Cloud apps.
For Higher Education students to continue developing skills, Adobe offers free “Daily Creative Challenges.” These are guided projects where participants receive creative prompts and connect with pros, mentors and other students for feedback and support. Select an app to learn more: Photoshop, XD and Illustrator. Also, for inspiration and over-the-shoulder learning, watch pros share their creative process on Adobe Live daily at www.behance.net/adobelive.
For faculty seeking to engage students during campus closures, Adobe has curated resources to help them discover inspiring projects, best practices and new ideas, so they can continue to drive valuable learning in virtual environments. Learn more about Adobe’s distance learning resources.
If you have questions, please contact the Technology Service Desk at 336-278-5200.
A specific software application I use is not available. Should I discuss purchasing this software with my department?
No. Please first contact the Technology Service Desk. It is possible that IT staff have received updates relevant to your software application needs and a purchase may not be required. Contact the Technology Service Desk at 336-278-5200 to learn more.
Center for Writing Excellence Resources
The Center for Writing Excellence has a variety of resources and ideas for using writing when teaching from a distance.
Discussions About Readings
Shift discussions about readings to written worksheets that students can share with one another and can be used to carry on long distance “discussions.” For example, design worksheets for readings that ask specific content questions. Ask students to summarize arguments, identify evidence used to make arguments or explain methodology. Ask students to conclude with a few questions of their own, which will facilitate their long-distance “discussions.” Place students in small groups to share and respond to each other’s reading worksheets via email, Moodle or Google Docs.
Assign students small working groups (3-5) to share written homework, responses, reflections or other documents using a platform such as Moodle, Microsoft Teams, email or Google Docs. Students could give each other holistic feedback at the end of the document or within the document (for example, by using comments in Word or Google Docs). Give students participation credit if they’ve given such feedback or comments to their peers.
In small groups and using a platform such as Moodle, Microsoft Teams, email or Google Docs, assign students to share first drafts of assignments for peer-response. They can give each other feedback on drafts and then complete a peer-response form. Give students credit for giving their peers feedback and for completing the peer-response form.
Create a free online wiki and have students (individually or in assigned pairs or small groups) “populate” the wiki with course content. Create the pages of this wiki to correspond with class content and assign students to them, or students could decide which pages to create. Just make sure to enroll students as “editors” so they can make changes in and add content to the wiki. Ask students to add to each other’s pages as well. Ask students to add their names to the pages they create/content they add, so they can receive credit for their work. Pbworks has a free online wiki that is easy to set up.
Online Collaboration Tools
Experiment with some online collaboration tools like those offered in Moodle, Microsoft Teams, Trello or Slack, which can be used for whole class or small group discussions. Moodle has “forums,” Trello has “boards” for discussions and Slack has “threads” for conversations.
If students have presentations to give, have them record a video of themselves and upload the videos to Moodle or Google Drive. Share a feedback form with students ahead of time, so they can complete this as their peers present, and then share their responses with each other via Moodle, email or Google Docs.
A number of campus departments are ready and willing to provide you with support as you make course adjustments.
- Beginning on Friday, March 13, several “Moving to Remote Learning” sessions will offer space, time and support to help you prepare your course for remote learning. Join staff from Teaching and Learning Technologies, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, Belk Library, the Koenigsberger Learning Center and the Writing Center for dedicated session times. Visit the Technology website for more details.
- As the university is adopting social distancing measures and asking community members to alter their personal interactions with others, TLT will only offer virtual consultations beginning Monday, March 23. Virtual consultations via Webex allow staff to continue face-to-face discussion using video, screen sharing and other activities to assist faculty with remote learning. Schedule a consultation for a specific date and time with a member of the Teaching and Learning Technologies staff. TLT staff are available 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. In your request, please indicate several dates and times that work for you.
Webinars highlighting a variety of teaching and learning topics will be offered online starting Monday, March 16. Each session will be recorded and made available for later viewing. Visit the Technology website to learn more details about topics, dates, and times.
Contact the Technology Service Desk at 336-278-5200. Staff are available to answer basic questions about Moodle, WebEx and other instructional technologies. If the question requires more in-depth knowledge or expertise, your question may be routed to a Teaching and Learning Technologies’ staff member.
During times of disruption, Elon remains committed to the principle of equal opportunity, including efforts to accommodate qualified students with disabilities as they face the challenges of university life. Visit the Disabilities Resources website for more information and contact the office at 336-278-6568 if you have questions.
Belk Library offers an array of resources to assist with online instruction. Visit this LibGuide for a variety of resources. Talk to your library liaison (who can, by appointment, provide virtual research and library instructional support) or consult the library research guides, which provide an overview of resources (mostly online) for each disciplinary area.
Center for Writing Excellence
Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning
Schedule a consultation with a CATL faculty member to discuss ideas or suggestions for shifting activities, assignments, experiential learning or other aspects of your course online. CATL faculty are available during and after Spring Break. Email email@example.com or call 336-278-5100 to set up an in-person, phone or virtual WebEx conversation. In your request, please indicate several dates and times that work for you and the format you would prefer. CATL offers additional tips and resources on its Supporting Learning During Times of Disruption page.