Top Five Ways to Emergency-Proof Your Course

In order to assist in emergency-proofing your course, we have identified 5 ways you can be proactive.

1. Build your technology and teaching expertise.

  • Enroll in Mason Workshops to build upon your technology skills. These face-to-face and online workshops range from learning specific software applications (web, digital images, office applications, etc.) to incorporating various technologies into your course and other aspects of work life.
  • Become familiar with Courses Support for faculty and students.
  • Learn about technologies and online services through:

. University Libraries technologies and services

. Center for History and New Media technologies and services

. The Writing Center

Free and Open Online Technologies: Become familiar with free and open online technologies that can be used in education such as CourseSites by Blackboard, Google Docs, Skype in the classroom, Youtube, Ustream, WordPress, Screencast-o-Matic, and other free Internet services for both personal and group collaborative work.

NOTE: Although we have provided a list of these services, please be aware of copyright issues and privacy issues surrounding the distribution of student grades and assessment feedback, IT security, and technical issues that might arise in teaching with open, online services. These services are NOT supported by Mason’s ITS Support Center. For assistance incorporating technology into your course, consult an Instructional Designer in Learning Support Services.

2. Identify coursework critical to the learning goals of the course; and map the assessments and activities to the technologies that provide students with alternative methods of completion.

Examples of coursework matched to technologies:

  • Writing Assistance – The Writing Center (face-to-face and online assistance)

Instructional Designers are available to assist you with incorporating technology into your course.

 3. Identify the primary method of communication and documentation distribution for:

Class Information and Cancellations: Let your class know how you plan to communicate cancellations, class information and live lectures. This can be done through Blackboard Announcements, Blackboard E-mail, and Mason e-mail.

Lecture notes and/or lecture recordings: These can be distributed to students through Blackboard Learn, Kaltura, and Mason e-mail.

Office hours: Let your class know when and how you will be available to meet with them such as through Blackboard Collaborate, Google Hangouts, Skype in the classroom

Contact Information: Use Contacts in Blackboard to provide information about office hours, phone numbers, and other links to help students find the people who have important roles in your course. Contact information should also be posted in your syllabus.

Feedback: Let your class know when and how you will provide them with feedback on assignments and exams. For example, use Microsoft Word track changes or In-Line Grading to provide feedback on papers submitted to Blackboard. Blackboard Grade Center also provides an area to include comments with a grade entry. You can also capture screen activity with instructor’s narration using Kaltura, Screencast-o-Matic, and Camtasia.

4. Pre-record mini-lectures of main course content.

The following software applications can be used to record mini-lectures with instructor narration: Kaltura, Screencast-o-Matic, Camtasia, Blackboard Collaborate, Prezi, and Podcasts created with Audacity.

5. Create an all-inclusive class syllabus and incorporate your unique class policies for academic preparedness.

After considering the strategies listed above, include your unique class policies for academic preparedness in your class syllabus. For information on designing an all-inclusive syllabus, visit the Designing Your Syllabus.