Wednesday, September 9, 2015

404: Professor Not Found - Planning Ahead for When You Will Miss Class

Class doesn't have to stop if the professor isn't able to be there. Maybe you have a conference, family event, or want to be prepared for the inevitable snow/polar vortex day that will happen in Wisconsin. Here are some ideas.

Non-technological options: 

You could have the students...
  • Work on a group project or big assignment & submit an update or draft
  • Meet with a writing center tutor & submit a summary about the meeting
  • Field experiences related to the class & submit a write-up
  • Have them prepare something for the next class meeting such as a jigsaw activity in which they teach each other course concepts  
    • Make sure to include accountability so they do it. 

But this blog is about technology! 

  • Often the same objectives from your face-to-face class can be met online via D2L
  • You could also prepare an online "floating" module important to the class that can be done anytime
    • You could use it for an unexpected absence as well, or just have an online week
    • CETL/LTS Instructional Designers (April & Avonlea) can provide individual help and training         

Ideas for content the students can absorb:      

  • They can read: Textbook, articles, websites, etc. 
  • They can watch videos online: YouTube, Google Videos, we can stream DVDs, etc. 
  • They can watch a video you made: Audio in PPT, Screencastomatic, YouTube Record Webcam 
  • They can do a combination of these things (very common)

Ideas for activities students can do online: 

  • Reading or video guides: answer questions while reading or watching to ensure they get main points. Submit to dropbox for grading or just check off. 
  • Quizzes: can create a pool of questions and randomize so students get different questions or allow them to take multiple times for mastery (don’t provide answers at first)
  • Discussions - SO many options of how to do discussions! 
    • Tips: "Must post first" option in D2L discussion & grading (sorting by name, associating a grade item)


  • Make sure to include grading criteria
  • If you will not have time to grade, maybe use something automated like a quiz
  • Students' technology skills are often overestimated
  • Disability accessibility 

Avoid (usually): 

  • Filler activities such as having a guest speaker on a tangentially related topic 
  • Assigning busy work  
  • Meeting online via web conferencing at the same time you would have had class  
    • Technology problems are common & lack of visual cues and delay make it much less natural than f2f

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