Keep Teaching

Getting Started

Unplanned circumstances such as a flu outbreak or weather events may require you to use various technologies and instructional strategies to continue your teaching. This site provides guidelines and resources to help you continue teaching from a distance when you or your students are unable to meet on campus during temporary closures.

  • Orient yourself to the situation at hand

    You may need to quickly adapt your courses to teach and support students who may be remote or otherwise unable to travel to campus. Academic disruption due to unforeseen events can impact students’ abilities to engage with planned course activities and complete existing assignments. In your instructional role, consider the advice given in this Chronicle of Higher Education article regarding how you might start when going online in a hurry.

    It should be noted that putting course materials online is not the same as designing and delivering true online instruction. 

    Stated in the article Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start: "As my colleague Flower Darby told a Chronicle reporter: 'We don’t want [people] to get the idea that this is what effective online education looks like. Moving online with inadequate support is a short-term solution.' She noted that an undersupported, hasty move could create bad impressions about online teaching, in general.

    I fear that such impressions will outlast the present crisis. And so, while we all want to be as helpful as possible, online-teaching advocates are unanimous in cautioning that these options for salvaging the semester are not to be confused with the kind of intentional design that’s needed to create high-quality online offerings over the long run," (Miller, 2020).

  • Get the information and context you need
    • Campus closures or emergencies will be reported through OUR and the university homepage

    • Coronavirus updates are available on the UNCW News page.

    • Check with departmental leaders for more details about the situation and guidelines about their expectations for classes. Administrators may want to have many of the department’s classes handled in similar ways.

    • Information on IT system availability will be available through TAC.  You can contact them via their website or  (910) 962-HELP (4357)
  • Communicate with your students right away
    • Even if you don’t have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible, informing them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking email and using Canvas so you can get them more details soon.

    • Check out the resources related to communication plans for your courses for ideas and templates
  • Adjust your course plans

    Build-in some flexibility, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think. Initial questions to consider include:

    What are my goals during this time?

    • What learning outcomes can I realistically accomplish during this time period? 
    • Can I maintain the original syllabus and schedule? 
    • Do I hope students will keep up with the reading with some assignments to add structure and accountability, or do I just want to keep them engaged with the course content somehow?

    What are the new priorities and schedule?

    • Will I continue providing lectures?
    • Should I structure new opportunities for discussion or group work?
    • Will I collect assignments?
    • What activities are better rescheduled?
    • What can or must be done online?

    Which of my policies and expectations must temporarily change?

    • Will my students be able to meet expectations for participation, communication, and deadlines?  
    • What if they are dealing with illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members? 
    • How will I handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably?

    What new tools or approaches are needed?

    • What tools and workflows are already familiar to me and my students?
    • Is it absolutely necessary to roll out a new tool or approach? When mental and emotional energies are already taxed, little energy and attention will remain for learning new things.
  • Communicate to students again with more details

    As you know more about how your course plans will be adjusted, reach back out to students with those details. They will have many questions, so consider how you want to manage that.

    • What key changes about the class can I share at this time?
    • How can they contact me (email, online office hours, etc.)
    • How soon can they expect a reply from me?
  • Stay prepared when there's no disruption
    • Consider relevant statements you may want to include in your syllabi and review with students each semester, such as:

      • Reserving your right to modify a syllabus when necessary and guaranteeing communication to the class in writing about any such changes when they occur.

      • Inclement weather, emergency preparedness or campus closure information.

      • Your expectations and procedures should classes be canceled.

    • Consider introducing remote learning tools and practices early each semester




Significant portions of the guidance in these pages are adapted with permission from Indiana University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and NC State University’s Keep Teaching sites.