Flexible Teaching to Minimize Disruptions

Familiarize yourself with University emergency closing policy


General suggestions

  • Be proactive: Whether short-term, such as a snow day or hurricane, or long-term as seen in 2020, a disruption in the academic calendar can create challenges. Considering the possibility that such disruptions might occur before they actually happen provides the opportunity to generically plan in advance.
  • Develop a plan appropriate for your course: Review your syllabus, planned activities, and assessment plans; begin brainstorming how to meet class and course learning objectives. For short-term disruptions, this may include how to adjust your class schedule, share some content as videos or activities to be completed asynchronously, or even eliminate some content or activities. For long-term disruptions, this will include how to deliver content, engage students, and assessment learning remotely, either synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Consider flexibility in time and space: In the event of a short-term disruption, students may not have electricity or Internet connection. In the event of a long-term disruption, students may be located outside of Connecticut or even the United States, in places with poor Internet connection, or with little privacy. When developing plans, consider the possible limitations faced by students and create a plan that creates accommodates these.
  • Request and use a HuskyCT course site: By setting up and using a HuskyCT site throughout the semester, you can develop your comfort with this tool. The regular use of HuskyCT will also assist your students in gaining familiarity with HuskyCT.
  • Identify and learn technology: It is best to learn how to use educational technology before the semester starts or an emergency develops. CETL’s Educational Technology department offers numerous training opportunities to ensure you have the skills you need. Learning these tools earlier will give you comfort to use the technology during a less stressful period which will benefit you and your students.
  • Incorporate tools into course: Rather than introducing new technology and approaches if circumstances change, during the semester, make regular use of the tools you will use in the event of disruption. For example, if students will use threaded discussions, find pedagogically appropriate ways to use the discussion tool throughout the semester to endure students are familiar with the tool.
  • Ensure remote access: Regardless of the length of the disruption, you should be prepared to conduct many of your class activities from home. While the University has very high-speed Internet connectivity, your home office may have a slower connection. Functions like video capture or synchronous discussions office hours can be negatively impacted by a slower connection. To ensure you will have access from home during a disruption, be sure to log into HuskyCT remotely and access course tools, course content, and video conferencing software from home. Practice accessing your course materials from your ‘home’ remote location using the computer you intend to use to ensure there are no connectivity issues. Now is a good time to assess if any upgrades are needed.
  • Communicate immediately and often: As soon as a disruption occurs, communicate with your students to inform them of changes and to share expectations (what they can expect from you and what you will expect of them).
  • Patience and flexibility: During times of change and uncertainty, it is worth remembering the adage “patience is a virtue” because we will adapt and learn; we will stumble and soar; and in the end, we will get through this if we all work together as a community.


Short-term disruptions, such as a weather event

  • Cancel class as outlined in your syllabus, explaining any responsibilities students have before the next class meeting.
  • In the next class meeting, teach the content that was missed due to the cancellation. This method allows you to continue your normal in class lessons and activities while giving you time to reorganize material, compress content, or create alternate delivery of content and activities.
  • Review the remaining course material and choose content and activities that can be moved to the online environment.
  • Use a combination of short videos, streaming films, readings, assignments, journals, quizzes, and/or guided discussion in HuskyCT to create online activities that meet the learning objectives associated with the class you are moving online. (NOTE: Placing PowerPoint slides into HuskyCT by themselves is a transfer of content but not activities. We recommend a more comprehensive engagement solution that includes not just student-to-content, but student-to-student and student-to-faculty contact as well.)
  • Establish a timeline for students that allows them to complete these activities in a more flexible manner while still allowing them to complete the activities prior to any associated assessments.


Long-term disruptions

  • At its core, teaching remotely requires that faculty reimagine how to spend lecture and discussion ‘time’ because they will not have the affordance of being in the same ‘space’ with their students. This is the time to start reimagining the purpose and outcomes associated with key tasks of the course.
  • Seek opportunities for constructive and collaborative dialogue with your colleagues and departmental leadership about your plans for ensuring continuity of teaching and learning.
  • Ensure that you have remote access to your teaching resources such as syllabi, readings, and other course materials.
  • If you have students with accommodations provided by the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) they are still relevant if your course is delivered online. However, it might not be easy to translate the accommodation from the classroom setting to the online setting. Please contact CSD with questions about applying student accommodations to online courses.

Re-Imagine your Course

Disruptions, both long or short ones, will require you to reconsider how you deliver your course

Revise your assessments

Disruptions often cause a change in modality or schedule, leading to a need to revise your assessment strategy.

Evaluate your tech needs

Disruptions create new tech needs but UConn has many options available for you to consider.

Review instructor resources

CETL has pulled together a variety of instructor resources, either best practices or exemplars, for you to consider.