Flexible Teaching Options to Minimize Weather Interruptions

Cancelled classes are no longer a rare exception here on the East Coast, so it makes sense to plan accordingly, establish an online presence (such as on HuskyCT), and even record lectures ahead of time.  The first step is to set up a HuskyCT site at the beginning of the semester and use it regularly to share materials with students. Please note that it can take up to 12 hours for the site to be available. Once it is available, however, all students registered for your class will be automatically enrolled and have immediate access. If students are used to interacting with the system from the start of the semester, they won’t have difficulty switching to it when a class is cancelled.

Plan ahead:  Consider “Flipping” a class ahead of time, so you already have a session prepared for online presentation in case of a weather cancellation; follow these steps:

  • Articulate weather cancellation plans in your syllabus:  Maintain a flexible Syllabus with clearly defined course- and session-level objectives (see this Article on Writing Objectives and Course Design Planning Guide for help).  Be sure to include language in your syllabus about how you plan to address weather related interruptions.  Well written, measurable, student-centered learning objectives not only allow you to choose the best activity and content for your in person class; in the event of a change from in-person to online delivery, the objectives will allow you to be more intentional and directed as you choose an alternative learning activity specific to an online mode of delivery while still meeting the learning objectives you have for your students. If need be, provide students with an updated syllabus showing any changes in schedule.
  • Use HuskyCT:  Set up a HuskyCT site at the beginning of the semester and use it regularly to share materials with students. Occasionally encourage students to use some of the varied tools available in HuskyCT as a regular part of the class (e.g., discussions, quizzes, assignments). Test HuskyCT, as well as any potential technologies, on the computer you will be using and in the location you will teaching from in the event of a change to your plans due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.  More information about using HuskyCT to address unforeseen disruptions can be found at Preparing for Emergency Disruptions.
  • Use Lecture Capture:  Mediasite is the University’s solution for lecture capture and streaming. Whether you are teaching online or face-to-face, reinforcing a difficult topic, or making up a missed class, Mediasite can provide an appropriate and effective solution.  Mediasite offers five basic options for creating and capturing lecture content:
    • Screencast: Record the screen as a full-motion video and use the microphone to record audio
    • Slideshow plus video: Record a web camera of yourself as full-motion video and the screen as slide snapshots, while using the microphone to record audio
    • Slideshow plus audio: Capture the screen as slide snapshots and use the microphone to record audio
    • Screencast plus video: Record the screen as a full-motion video and a web camera of yourself, while using the microphone to record audio
    • Video upload: Upload videos from the my Mediasite portal.  Much of this you can record on your own using just a laptop or tablet, but the iTV group also offers everything from recording studios with state-of-the-art teaching tools (like smart boards) to headsets and high-quality microphones.
  • Test all flipped class materials from home.  Please note that testing video capture software on your laptop in your University office with high speed internet connectivity is not a good idea if you will be using your laptop in your home office with a slower DSL connection.  For more information, see Mediasite Tips and Examples or contact the iTV group at dl@uconn.edu (860-486-6540).
  • Make it a professional development opportunity:  Whether proactively or reactively responding to inclement weather, think of the results of your efforts as potential first steps in expanding your pedagogy and technology toolbox. All of the techniques and technology discussed here can be used for online, flipped, hybrid/blended, and in-person courses at UConn. Many of your colleagues are already using these methods to increase effectiveness in and out of the classroom. Once you have used these techniques to adjust for weather interruptions, we encourage you to continue exploring them as possible first steps in further bolstering the effectiveness of your courses through the use of educational technology.  Follow these links to connect with appropriate staff and resources as you further explore these opportunities:  eCampus Developing an Online Course, eCampus Knowledge Base, and the Instructional Resources Center for new academic technologies and faculty development for the use of HuskyCT.