With the spike of Omicron cases, it can be a challenge helping absent students to keep up with classwork without disrupting the class experience for all students. One approach is to keep it simple and maximize on the lessons learned during 2020. The Planning for the Unexpected planning document is a good place to start as the questions it asks are from the students’ perspective.
Strategies and tools that can be helpful:
- Use the Announcements tool in the Blackboard course site as a consistent source of communications and updates. Students will be able to view this whether they are on campus or quarantined at home.
- Record lectures or a summary of your lecture for students that are absent and as a review for the rest of the class. If your classroom is equipped for distance learning you can use Zoom for this or you can use PowerPoint to record a summary of your lecture notes after the class meeting. It is recommended that you store your videos in Microsoft Stream as Zoom Cloud storage is temporary and cleared at the end of each semester. Stream also allows you to provide captioning. Links to Stream videos can easily be embedded into Blackboard; video files should not be stored or uploaded directly to Blackboard as it will slow down the performance of your course. The university continues to add tools to support faculty so don’t hesitate to contact the FCTL for assistance on what might be best for your situation.
- Take advantage of the Discussion Board feature in Blackboard. Online discussion can extend discussion beyond the class meeting and allow students that are absent to participate. Zoom is also a useful tool for meeting online through video conferencing. Zoom can be used for private meetings with students, class meetings, office hours, study sessions, or other ways that will help students to keep up with what is happening in class.
- Have a plan for how students can make up an assignment or exam. Consider course policies that will allow flexibility for all students and be prepared to show grace with those that become sick and cannot attend class. Strategies could include make-up or alternative assignment/activities, multiple low-stake assessments rather than a few high-stack exams, allowing students to take at-home exams – Respondus Exam allows for easy formatting and publishing a test created in Word directly to Blackboard and the LockDown Browser and Monitor add extra security for online exams.
Strategies if you become sick:
If you become ill, you will want to work with your Department Head, but the same strategies and tools can be helpful: 1) use the Announcements tool to communicate with your students and let them know what to expect; 2) pre-recorded lectures can be handy or at least having the ability to record lectures and meet with students using Zoom from home; 3) online asynchronous discussion through the Blackboard course site; and 4) allow for flexibility and show yourself some grace.
Contact the FCTL if you would like to discuss any of these strategies, explore other strategies appropriate for your situation, or for assistance choosing and using tech tools with your teaching.
For further consideration:
Else-Quest, N., Sathy, V., & Hogan, K. A. (2022, January 18). How to give our students the grace we all need. The Chronicle of Higher Education.https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-to-give-our-students-the-grace-we-all-need
Sims, D. M. (2022, January 6). How to have a classroom experience that matters. The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-to-have-a-classroom-experience-that-matters