Center for Teaching Excellence

Instructional Continuity

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Continuing to teach during a disruption of campus requires creativity, flexibility, and patience. While no instructor goes into a semester thinking this will happen, there are ways to still ensure that students achieve the primary learning outcomes of your course. There is no need to radically rethink what you are currently doing. The resources provided here will help you transition instruction while continuing to support your students’ learning.

It takes weeks and months to properly design a course to be taught online. We share here some strategies that can work well in online environments, but there is no way in short notice that you can fully design a course. However, you can still ensure your students continue learning by engaging in online activities even if they are not ideally how you would like to teach your students. Remember, perfect is the enemy of good.

To be sure, a disruption to campus will undoubtedly disrupt your class. The transition from face-to-face teaching to online instruction will, at times, prove frustrating and disorienting to you and your students. We encourage you to be patient and forgiving of your students and yourself. You may not be able to stick to your course exactly as you envisioned at the beginning of the semester, but together we will be able to help your students stay connected and learning.

Before considering how you will transition your class online, take a few minutes to consider the following points.

Communicate with your students.

While you may not have a fully formed plan for class yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible. Let them know how you will communicate additional information (i.e. email or Canvas) and when to expect a follow up message with further details.

Stay updated on the campus disruption.

In the event of teaching online, SMU will update the following pages OIT Guide to Keep Teaching and COVID-19 with information on developing resources and how long you may need to teach online.

Check with your department chair.

Some departments may decide collectively about expectations regarding their classes. Before planning too much of your course, check with your department leadership to see if they have additional guidance.

Determine what is realistic for your class.

Start thinking about what you can realistically accomplish in an online format. What are the primary goals for your class that you still need to achieve? What changes do you need to make to your syllabus and class schedule? What assignments will need to be adjusted? What grading changes may be necessary? How will be keep your students engaged throughout the campus disruption.

Establish expectations for students.

You will need to reset your expectations for students including deadlines, class participation, and communication. Also remember that the disruption may impact students’ ability to meet your expectations such as poor internet connection, illness, or caring for a family member.