Thanks to everyone who attended the Weatherproofing Your Class workshop yesterday! For anyone who couldn’t attend, here is the first of two posts with information from the workshop. This post will focus on our discussion, and tomorrow’s will focus on the technology.
Communication with Students
Because of the recent policy change regarding snow days and canceled classes, we suggest creating a snow-day plan and communicating it to students in your syllabus. In addition, faculty found that emailing students early in the day after the announcement is made was helpful, even if it is to let students know that you will be sending more detailed information about assignments or activities later in the day.
Impact of Snow Days
The valuable class time that you lose from a snow day often means that you fall behind in your syllabus. The workshop focused on ways to use technology to reproduce certain class activities: lectures, group work, and student responses/ discussion. The first step to effective planning is to focus on your learning objectives for the missed class(es) and then create materials or alternative activities that will meet those objectives in a different way. In some cases, the change in plans may lead to serendipitous pedagogical discoveries!
As with the integration of any technology, accessibility is important consideration. On a day when the college is closed, safety is the key concern, and students cannot be expected to gather together on campus to meet. And while technology will allow you to accomplish some of your goals, faculty should consider that students may have difficulty gaining access to certain technologies. Encourage your students to talk to you in advance about any limitations or issues they may have. The best way to ensure that all students have access to the resources they need to succeed in your class during snow days is the same as it is under normal circumstances. If you think ahead about the technology that you may use in the course of the semester, you will be able to ensure that students either have access to it or you can make reasonable accommodations.