Adapted by members of the University of Alberta Centre for Teaching and Learning including
Ellen Watson, Senior Educational Developer, Janice Miller-Young, Academic Director, and Graeme Pate, Educational Developer.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Adapted from “Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption, for SIS and PWR.” Feel free to remix for your own institutional contexts!
Teaching during times of potential disruption requires creative and flexible thinking about how instructors can support students in achieving essential core course learning objectives. This document offers suggestions for instructors at NorQuest College looking to continue offering a student-centered learning experience in a remote or online learning environment.
While the process will no doubt feel unfamiliar and at times possibly frustrating, try as much as possible to be patient. There will always be hiccups, but times of disruption are, by their nature, disruptive, and everyone expects that. Be willing to switch tactics if something isn’t working. Above all, stay focused on making sure the students are comfortable, and keep a close eye on the course learning goals--while you might not be able to teach something exactly the way you imagined, as long as you’re still meeting the learning goals of the course, you’re doing fine.
Keeping in touch with students is vital during any changes to your class(es) — whether a viral outbreak like COVID-19, a planned absence on your part, or a crisis impacting all or part of campus. You'll want to let students know about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations.
Communicate early and often:
Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety, and save you dealing with individual questions. Let students know about changes or disruptions as early as possible, even if all the details aren't in place yet, and let them know when they can expect more specific information. Don't overload them with email, but consider matching the frequency of your messages with that of changes in class activities and/or updates to the broader crisis at hand. For example, if the campus closure is extended for two more days, what will students need to know related to your course?
Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often. Tell students both how often you expect them to check their email, and how quickly they can expect your response.
Manage your communications load:
You will likely receive some individual requests for information that could be useful to all your students, so consider keeping track of frequently asked questions and post these discussions on a forum accessible to all students. This way, students know they might get a group reply in a day versus a personal reply within an hour.