Michael Starenko--RIT is committed to the continuity of instruction (also called academic continuity) in the event of an emergency disruption that may result in the suspension of all activities, including face-to-face classes on RIT campuses. To prepare for any significant disruption in classes, ranging from closure due to weather or a medical emergency, to a campus evacuation or closure, all RIT faculty should have a plan in place to:
- Consider and prepare for disruptions
- Organize your course materials electronically before the start of classes and communicate with students during normal operations
- Conduct classes during a disruption by using online communication technologies
Why You Should Have a Continuity of Instruction Plan
The best-known continuation of instruction initiative in modern times is "The Sloan Semester" (Lorenzo, 2006), which was a coordinated response to the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 when numerous Gulf Coast colleges and universities were closed and thousands of students were left without a means to continue their education.
Supported by the Sloan Foundation and lead by the Sloan Consortium and the Southern Regional Education Board, the initiative requested assistance from higher education institutions nationwide to make online courses available to displaced students. A total of 153 institutions volunteered to offer 1,345 online courses, which led to more than 9,000 enrollments from Sloan Semester students in fall 2005. Participating institutions forgave more than $3.1 million in tuition and fees to assist these students (Myers & Wilson, 2011).
What Can You Do?
Post Essential Course Information on myCourses
Through myCourses, RIT’s learning management system, faculty can use the Content tool as a central location for posting syllabi, course schedules, assignment instructions, lecture notes, presentations, lab activities, and links to external web resources. Each course shell is automatically generated before each semester and is restricted to students enrolled in the course.
Leverage RIT Libraries' Online, Discipline-Specific Resources
Faculty can request to have a wide range of copyrighted, print and/or video-based materials made electronically accessible to students via the online course reserve process. Journal or newspaper articles, chapter readings, and/or instructor-generated resources such as lecture notes are just some examples of what can be put on reserve for a course. Faculty and students can also access a wide range of discipline-specific databases, which offer free, copyright-cleared access to thousands of peer-reviewed research publications. The subject-specialist librarians, assigned to each RIT college, can also work with you and your students to find resources and provide instruction on how to do research through these resources.
Consider Alternate Ways to Communicate with Students and Conduct Class Online
There are a variety of methods for interacting with students and delivering instruction online in the event that regularly scheduled class time is disrupted. For more information on strategies and tools to help you develop a continuity of instruction plan, go to How to Conduct Your Class Online.
Communicate Your “Continuity” Plan Though the Course Syllabus
Once you have determined the best continuity of instruction methods for your course, incorporate this information into your course syllabi.
Where Can I Get Help?
- Teaching & Learning Services provides consultation and support for captioning audio materials, putting course materials in myCourses, and creating online teaching and learning environments
- RIT Libraries provides assistance with identifying online curriculum resources, using research databases, and putting course materials on electronic reserve
- RIT emergency information is RIT's online resource for emergency preparedness and response on campus including RIT Alert communication options
- Business Continuity oversees development of campus-wide programs and plans that enable RIT to respond to incidents and return to normal operations quickly
Day, T. (2015). Academic continuity: Staying true to teaching values and objectives in the face of course interruptions. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 3(1), 75-89.
Lorenzo, G. (2006). The Sloan semester. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(2), 5-40.
Myers, K. A., and Wilson, J. L. (2011). The role of online learning in the emergency plans of flagship institutions. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, IV(1). Retrieved http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring141/meyer_wilson141.html.
University of Washington (n.d.). Prepare for when classes can’t meet. Retrieved https://www.washington.edu/itconnect/learn/prepare/.