Step 1: Make a Plan
Need to transition your classes out of a face-to-face setting quickly? Here are five
things to consider immediately:
- Talk with your director about any school-level plans and expectations, and stay abreast
of University policies and updates via usm.edu/provost/coronavirus.php. If your class cannot be moved to an online format (e.g., it is performance-based,
involves hazardous laboratory-based materials, or requires hands-on research), speak
with your director to develop an alternative plan.
- Familiarize yourself with Canvas, if you are not already comfortable in that environment. View the short videos provided
in Resources and review further online resources on the Canvas site as needed. Keep
in mind that you can use Skype and Zoom (if available) to communicate with students as well.
- Review your current syllabi and all remaining assignments and assessments with a new
eye—what can or should be modified for an online environment? Can they complete the
same amount of work, and can you realistically cover the same topics in the same way
(e.g, record lectures, do live lectures, etc.)? What flexibility can you create with
deadlines, assignments, and testing? How can your final presentations or group assignments
work in an online environment? Keep in mind that if the situation is fluid, you will
likely have challenges with your own and students’ schedules, and the more flexibility
you build in, the more manageable the remainder of the term is likely to be. You want
to avoid scenarios where you continually have to adjust for individual students or
change your requirements to accommodate fluid circumstances, so think through how
you can revise your expectations and assignments in creative ways.
- Modify your syllabus, including any assignments and format (see checklist below),
recognizing that you may have to adjust further as the term proceeds. Post your new
syllabus on Canvas.
- Communicate as quickly as possible with your students about changes to your classes,
directing them to Canvas for the new information. Reassure them regarding the continuity
of the course, and share any questions or concerns that arise with your director.
Instructional Continuity Checklist for Instructors
This checklist is provided to guide instructors of record with preparing for disruptions
to the semester and teaching in face-to-face classes. In some cases, transitioning
to an online environment in Canvas will be relatively easy; in others, it may be extremely
difficult or even impossible. If content cannot be moved online quickly due to safety
or other reasons, please work with your Director to identify an alternative plan of
action (see Instructional Continuity Policy).
- Develop plan for transitioning any in-class assignments, lectures, and discussions
to Canvas environment. Work with your director on specifics of the plan for any classes
than cannot be moved online, and provide a brief written plan for each of those classes
to your director to be archived. The Department of Education may request that we track
how we are maintaining instructional continuity during disruptions, and such records
will be extremely helpful.
a. Use the Resources page to familiarize yourself with Canvas tools and create a workable infrastructure
for your class that—at minimum—includes the syllabus, announcements, discussion board,
gradebook, and lectures (which can be PowerPoint with voiceover, video lectures, or
b. When setting up your Gradebook in Canvas, be sure to include all assignments and
all grades, weighted appropriately, so that the students’ grade calculation is accurate.
View the video on the Gradebook and review information on the Canvas site as needed
(see the Resources page).
c. Keep in mind as you utilize video that, depending on students’ locations, they
may have bandwidth limitations. Shorter videos may be more manageable for them.
d. Prioritize presence and leading interaction in the online environment through your
discussion posts, announcements, and other means.
- Adjust syllabus to reflect new plan, and post syllabus and modified plans in Canvas
shell for class. Your new syllabus and plan for the semester must be posted even if
the class is not going online.
a. Add a clear description of how you will continue instruction. Students need reassurance
about their ability to complete their classes, despite the challenges the situation
b. Add new policies regarding examinations, assignments, and any other assessments
and how they will be done in the absence of face-to-face class meetings (e.g., online
quizzes, proctoring via Examity, etc.).
c. Describe policies for make-ups that may be necessary. Consider adding additional
assignments for options to drop grades, to assist you and students in navigating
the closure. For instance, if you have four tests, consider increasing that to six
and allowing students to drop their two lowest grades. Aim for increased flexibility,
within the bounds of course integrity, recognizing that emergencies and family complexities
are highly likely to arise.
- Determine how you will communicate with students and with what frequency, and post
that schedule in Canvas. The recommendation is to communicate with classes through
Canvas announcements and messaging and to check messages daily, if able.
- Send announcement in Canvas to all students to communicate expectations regarding
the continuation of class, their engagement in the course, and your commitment to
completion of the term. Remind them to plan carefully for how to manage time and stay
focused on school. Identify your availability via messaging and online office hours
and encourage them to stay positive; remember they are likely anxious and reassure
them of the continuity they can expect.
- Make sure that you are signed up for Eagle Alert and encourage your students to do so as well, to remain informed in the event of
Home • Step 1: Make a Plan • Step 2: Communicate • Step 3: Resources