Maintaining Instructional Continuity

Planning for unexpected circumstances.  

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When classes are canceled or unexpected emergencies arise, face-to-face classes may suddenly be disrupted. It is highly recommended that all faculty prepare for these potential interruptions of in-person instruction. When establishing these plans, consider students and their environmental working conditions. For example, inclement weather could result in power outages and prevent students from attending synchronous Zoom sessions. Additionally, students may find themselves in physical surroundings that are less conducive to learning and may need to complete assignments after hours. To ensure an inclusive and equitable learning environment, the best approach is an online, asynchronous learning module to allow for flexibility and autonomy.

The following strategies promote continuation of course work when unforeseeable circumstances inhibit faculty or students from attending in-person classes. While the same solution may not be the best fit for everyone, a combination of the following practices will help overcome potential obstacles and barriers.

Preparation Strategies

Plan ahead for alternative instruction. Having a plan will benefit both faculty and students. Consider how class cancellations or other unforeseen circumstances will affect units, modules or lessons. Identify additional content, materials, activities and assignments that can substitute for in-person instruction and be delivered in a remote format.  

Utilize UB supported tools. Whenever possible, choose UB teaching technologies to deliver instruction as services and supports are available for both faculty and students. UB Learns offers a secure, inclusive and accessible environment for teaching and learning. Additionally, it is likely that most students already have familiarity with this platform and can access it from multiple devices.

Determine an effective structure. Organize a course structure that is intuitive, meaningful, clear and consistent to foster a positive learning experience.  

Prepare session materials. Select or develop materials that will support students in achieving the established learning objectives. Choose materials that are diverse and create engaging, meaningful, inclusive and equitable learning experiences for all students.  

Ensure content is accessible and inclusive. It is essential that course technologies and materials are accessible for all learners. Ally in UB Learns can assist in identifying and improving accessibility levels.  

Consider multiple avenues of learning and student autonomy. Foster an equitable and inclusive learning community that values the presence and abilities of all members.  

Communicate with students. Share with students the process, procedures and expectations for completing coursework if an in-person class session is canceled. 

Community-building Strategies

Fostering a welcoming and inclusive classroom community starts at the onset of all courses. A strong learning community will offer support and guidance during uncertain times.

Build rapport. Get to know your students by identifying situational factors (e.g., individual needs, preferences, expectations, life experiences, etc.). Explicitly ask students’ about their access to technology and other items that are required to complete coursework.  

Encourage a sense of community. Develop a welcoming and inclusive learning environment and provide opportunities for peer interactions and collaboration. 

Implementation Strategies

Establish clear goals and expectations. Share with students how to access and complete coursework.  

Include opportunities to practice learningDesign activities that prepare students to achieve learning outcomes. 

Check for understanding. Utilize formative assessment as a way to evaluate student learning. Ensure assessments are aligned to the objectives of the class session.  

Provide feedback and guidance. Invest in student success by implementing feedback strategies that will support learning processes, correct misconceptions and guide students to reflect and monitor on their own learning. 

Share resources and support. Think of additional resources beyond the classroom students may need during this time. 

Academic Integrity Strategies

Procedures for protecting academic integrity in assessment completion vary between in-person and remote settings. If an assessment must be moved to a remote format at the last minute, it is best to follow the practices below.

Clarify testing rules. Include in the directions explicit statements about what testing resources and behaviors are and are not allowed.

Students can unknowingly violate academic integrity standards if they do not understand the boundaries of the assessment. For example, if they interpret “open book” as meaning they are allowed to search the internet for answers, students might inadvertently commit a dishonest act.

Overtly state the consequences of cheating. Give a specific sanction or defined range of sanctions that students will face if they commit academic dishonesty. Knowing penalties can deter students who might be tempted to cheat.

The chosen penalty must be more severe than simply getting no credit on the questions where cheating happens; otherwise, there is no harm for the student in trying to cheat.

Apply protective measures. Deter academic dishonesty by utilizing electronic tools.

Through UB Learns, instructors can utilize Respondus Assessment Tools including Lockdown Browser and/or Monitor, two deterrents to cheating.

Design assessments well. Use smart design choices to help limit cheating especially when quickly moving an assessment to an online format.

If classes are canceled due to weather or other unexpected events on an exam day, it is not recommended to change the modality of the exam from in person to remote.

Assessments in UB Learns allow for:

  • access to the Question Library
  • randomization of questions and answers
  • options that allow only one question to be viewed at a time
  • pre-set start and end times and forced completion

Remind students about the value of academic integrity. Prompt students to think about academic honesty at the outset of an assessment. They may be less likely to cheat when they come to challenging tasks.  

Begin online assessments with honesty statements for students to agree to or sign.

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