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Professional Development Institute: Academic Contingency Planning

Professional Development

Blackboard Links


We have several online modules that focus on online learning, and more will be added soon. To see what's available, click the Online PD tab above and select either Digital Instructor or Faculty Development. You will have to register to get access to the training.

There are also tutorials on the Blackboard Support and Training page.

Other Resources

Links for using Collaborate Ultra and MS Teams

Please note that our Blackboard instance is NOT Ultra, but our Collaborate IS Ultra.

Contingency Planning

Let your students know what to expect. If the College cancels face-to-face classes, your students need to know exactly what your plans are for continuing classes, such as how you plan to contact them to provide further instructions (through email, Blackboard, Remind, etc.) or if the course will be moving to Blackboard.

It is important to note that some of your students may not have a computer with Internet access at home.  You should probably survey your students to find out what they have and discuss possible solutions.  Smart phones give them limited access, but smart phones are not the best option if your students need to write papers.

Prepare your Blackboard courses. Assuming you can move your courses, at least for a limited time, to the online environment, you should probably start setting up the basics now.  Go ahead and add your syllabus and any files you can. As you are supposed to be putting grades in Blackboard now, even if you do not teach online, you already have course shells in place. You are ready to start building.

If you do not know how to use Blackboard:

  • Blackboard Help for Instructors:  When you are logged into Blackboard and in a course, there is a link to documentation that is specifically for Blackboard instructors. You will find this link under the Help menu, which is at the bottom of the navigation bar.
  • Video Tutorials: There are also video tutorials you can access. Click the Video Tutorials link, which is two links below the Blackboard Help for Instructors link.
  • Ask colleagues for help and guidance. If someone teaches the same class you do, he or she might be willing to copy part or all of the course to your Blackboard course shells. Keep in mind, you will still need to do a lot of updating. For example, your due dates may be different, and you will have to set up quizzes and change information that specifically applies to you or your course.
  • Search YouTube for tutorials for using Blackboard Learn.

Create content for your courses. Assuming you are not using someone else’s course, you will need to create content, at least enough to cover the time face-to-face classes will be canceled. Keep in mind that your materials must meet ADA compliance, so students with disabilities can access them. This means all videos must be captioned, or you must provide an alternate suitable method of providing the material.

Some options:

  • Type your lecture material for students to read.  This might be time consuming, but it may be your preference.
  • Create a slide presentation (PowerPoint) of the lecture material. This would be different than a presentation you might use in class, as it should include more than bullet points and highlights. 
  • Create a podcast or video podcast. A podcast is an audio file, usually done in a series, while a video podcast includes video.  Keep in mind that video eats up bandwidth. If you students are trying to do everything on their phones and they do not have unlimited data, they may not watch the video. Audio files do not eat up nearly as much bandwidth, but they may not be the ideal solution for your needs.
  • Use the Collaborate videoconferencing tool in Blackboard. If you need your classes to be synchronous (students meet at the same time), then Collaborate might be your solution. With this tool, students can see whatever you can show on your computer desktop. You can narrate a slide show, demonstrate software, and use a whiteboard. You can even ask students to share their desktops. Students can communicate using a microphone, or they can type in a chat window.
  • Create screencasts. Screencasts are generally video-captures of your computer desktop. Some screencasting software, like Screencast-o-matic, allow you to include webcam video as well. Screencasts are great for creating videos where you narrate a slide presentation or demonstrate how to use software, but keep in mind that you are not streaming live video. You must record the video and post a link for students to access it. You also need to caption it.

Other Options

If your students do not have access to a computer, there are still a few options (all of which still work if your students do have access to a computer and the Internet):

  • Podcasts: Use your smart phone to create an audio file of your lecture material. Students can access these files through their phones, computers, or other smart device. If you have students who are hearing impaired, be sure to prepare and provide a transcript of the lecture.
  • Video Podcasts: Use your smart phone to create video podcasts of your lectures. Video podcasts (also known as vodcasts, vidcasts, videocasts) are essentially videos of your lectures. Please note that if students do not have unlimited data plans that they may not watch the videos.  Also, any videos you use should be closed captioned.
  • Plain Old Text: Some of you may find you can create a document that details what you expect students to do while on-campus classes are canceled. Create a detailed schedule of what they should read, assignments they should complete, and any other work they can do without coming to campus.  If you provide a handout to your students, be sure there’s a digital copy for students who are visually impaired and who must use a screen reader for text.

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