Strategies for Being Flexible

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Strategies for Being Flexible

Strategies For Adjusting Your Curriculum

Extending Deadlines

Faculty who have online, hybrid, and web-enhanced courses may continue instruction online during crisis situations or campus closures. However, there can be no required deadlines during the a formal closure period. This is to accommodate students who may be without power, etc., during the same event that caused the college closure. For classes that have work due during the closure period, deadlines must be extended to accommodate the closure.

Extending deadlines and expectations for completion of activities and assignments is especially important for equity reasons. Disruption of or lack of internet services or the inability to get to a library to work on a computer may affect some students. Other students may be fine and working as usual. It is important to recognize both situations when considering adjustments. 

Divide the Work Amongst Students 

If you are still interested in covering material that you may have missed, you may consider assigning different chapters or content modules to individual students or small groups. The student or groups would then go off and learn their material and be responsible for coming back and teaching it to the rest of the class either through oral or written presentations / discussions.  Another way to do this is by having students divide into content groups, learn the material, and decide what they will teach others. Then divide up into groups again where there is one expert for each piece of content in the group and have them teach each other. This allows for covering more material in a shorter amount of time. 

Realign your Assessments

Remember, different levels of outcomes are assessed in different ways. We often default to ‘application’ level assessments, which sometimes aren’t necessary. You may be able to better (and more quickly) assess your course outcomes through lower-level assessments. For example, if your outcome requires students to “recognize,” to “identify,” or even to “understand,” you may not need students to complete a lengthy project or write out a full paper. Ask students to do only what you need to assess that outcome—a multiple choice quiz can assess recognition or understanding in most cases. Perhaps instead of a full paper, they answer a shorter essay question that gets more specifically to what you’re looking for. 

Trim Supplemental Content

Almost every course has content which we know is useful for students, and which can really help them in specific ways, but is less tied to the course outcomes. While we want our students to be well-rounded learners and participants in the world, our course outcomes are where we’re required to focus. Take a look at your content, and ask yourself what is outcomes-driven and what is supplemental, and refocus on that outcomes-driven content (using shorter versions of supplemental content to reinforce the outcomes). 

Alternating Assignments

NOTE: The topic of illness may be too triggering to address in this context. Please consider the topic of why you are having to alter assignments before doing this. Consider altering an assignment that will still address your objectives and use the context of snow, relatable to their current lived experience during this closure. Think about the concept you would be teaching during the closure and adapt it to include snow, the weather, the effect of weather on social conditions etc. A few examples: 

  • Discuss weather patterns and what causes rain and snow 
  • Ask students to write a short story, a poem, an essay using snow as the subject 
  • Adjust word problems to address average snow falls or centers around weather 
  • Compare weather patterns in different regions and countries 
  • Contact eLearning for more ideas! 

Allow for Extensions

While many students may have continued working during this time and/or during school closures, other students may not have had the opportunity. Whether due to caring for oneself, caring for another, loss of power, a lack of available technology at home or at a place of refuge, or other issues, our students may not have been able to continue working. Consider allowing those students additional time to complete missed assignments. Approach your students and ask them how much time they need (especially since they will also be working on the next assignments simultaneously) and use course contracts to uphold those revised due dates. 

Be Equitable and Considerate

Remember that we have students from all over Seattle, and online students from all across both Washington and the other 49 states. While a majority of us may have been affected by the situation or weather in Seattle, students in the greater Seattle area may be dealing with entirely different situations, road conditions, etc. and may be facing further closures of jobs, their children’s schools, and more. Bus routes may still be off or delayed for a few more days, and that may affect students’ ability to attend classes. Reflect on this experience, and be understanding when students have additional absences or delays due to whatever is going on in their region or individual experiences. 

Communicate to Your Students 

However you adjust your curriculum, be sure to communicate the changes to your students. If you trim or cut content, include the rationale—why was that content cut over others. Make sure you communicate the expectations for the remainder of the quarter and reiterate any relevant course policies. Students are as unsure as many of us are on what to do next and are likely to be concerned about falling behind. Communicate with them to address those anxieties and give them a solid path forward.

Strategies For Communicating w/Students Via Canvas

Communicate using the Inbox

In Canvas, you can send out emails to all your enrolled students using Conversations feature via the Inbox. Using this feature, you can email individuals or the entire class.

Make an Announcement

Announcements allow you to communicate with your students about course activities and post interesting course-related topics (Announcements Overview Video).

Conduct a Live Session in Zoom

Zoom is a synchronous tool that allows you to upload slide content and interact with students in real time. This option can serve as a backup when the campus is closed. Sessions can be recorded for students who do not have access to the Internet at home. Student can playback the session and answer one or two predetermined questions to prove they have watched the recording. You must request an account through eLearning in order to use Zoom.   

Getting Instructional Design Help 

Still need more help? Feel free to reach out to our Instructional Design/eLearning Team for assistance: