Classroom strategies to preserve academic continuity and integrity during an emergency.Introduction
Disasters, catastrophes, and emergencies can disrupt the postsecondary instructional delivery system. Different emergencies or events impact the learning environment in different ways. For example, a campus shooting may disrupt academic activities on an individual campus or within a particular building; a hurricane or pandemic pandemic /pan·dem·ic/ (pan-dem´ik)
1. a widespread epidemic of a disease.
2. widely epidemic.
Epidemic over a wide geographic area.
n. has the potential to affect the broader community by interrupting public services Public services is a term usually used to mean services provided by government to its citizens, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services. , communications, and general business operations Business operations are those activities involved in the running of a business for the purpose of producing value for the stakeholders. Compare business processes. The outcome of business operations is the harvesting of value from assets ; and a widespread disaster may shut down a municipality or region causing postsecondary institutions to close. In any instance of disaster, catastrophe, or emergency, there is a concern for academic and instructional continuity. This concern is especially important for the postsecondary technical education classroom. The postsecondary technical setting of classrooms, laboratories, and clinical and field experiences provides a particularly challenging academic environment. Unlike K-12 schools, postsecondary class times and offerings vary, students are mobile and travel on and off campus at will, and general communication outside of the classroom can be challenging. The emphasis on demonstrated proficiency and skills attainment makes the postsecondary technical education offered at community colleges and technical schools particularly sensitive to a disruption. This setting warrants the need for strategies to ensure academic and instructional continuity.
Planning for Continuity of Instruction
Many postsecondary institutions respond to the threat of emergency educational disruption by developing formal plans. Institutional plans are developed through a variety of avenues and possess diverse names. These institutional plans or guidelines for response may originate from several entities in the institution.
Some originate from planning teams or committees (Emerging Academic Initiatives Continuity of Instruction Planning Team, 2010; Rochester Institute of Technology, 2009). Others are planned administratively through the president's office, provost's office, or academic affairs office (Ozarks Technical Community College Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) is "the community's college" in Springfield, Missouri, established by Springfield and thirteen surrounding public school districts on April 3, 1990. As the region's new comprehensive community college, OTC has an open-admissions policy. , n.d.; Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville Technical Community College is a community college located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is part of the North Carolina Community College System. External links
These plans may vary in scope and focus. Some plans are designed to address a multitude of disruptions and include all emergencies and catastrophic events (Emerging Academic Initiatives Continuity of Instruction Planning Team, 2010; Ozarks Technical Community College, n.d.; Piedmont Virginia Community College Piedmont Virginia Community College is a two-year, post-secondary educational institution located in Albemarle County, Virginia, south of Charlottesville. As part of the statewide Virginia Community College System, PVCC serves the residents of five counties surrounding , 2010) while others address specific threats such as pandemic flu or H1N1 (Baltimore City Community College Baltimore City Community College dates its origins to the Baltimore Junior College, founded as part of the Baltimore City Public School System in 1947 to provide post-high school education for returning World War II veterans and was the inspiration of Dr. Harry Bard. , 2009; University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, n.d.; The University of North Carolina at Pembroke The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (known colloquially as UNC Pembroke or UNCP) is a public historically American Indian university in the town of Pembroke in Robeson County, North Carolina. , 2009; University of Oregon Office of Academic Affairs, n.d.). The variance in plans is also evident in the levels represented, with most plans having a broad institutional focus. While most plans focus on institutional facilities and employees (Beaufort County Beaufort County is the name of several counties in the United States:
In addition to plans and reports developed by individual postsecondary institutions, the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center. (CDC See Control Data, century date change and Back Orifice.
CDC - Control Data Corporation ) also offers information for postsecondary institutions and urges planning to avoid academic disruption (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2010). The CDC specifically addresses continuity of student learning and operations in its checklist for higher education institutions (CDC, 2006). This checklist was developed to provide a framework to assist postsecondary institutions in developing and revising influenza plans. The CDC suggests institutions of higher education (IHE IHE Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise
IHE Institutions of Higher Education
IHE International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (historical acronym only, replaced by: IHE Delft, the Foundation) ) "develop and disseminate alternative procedures to assure continuity of instruction (e.g., web-based distance instruction, telephone trees, mailed lessons and assignments, instruction via local radio or television stations) in the event of college/university closures" and "develop a continuity of operations plan The Continuity of Operations Plan refers to the preparations and institutions maintained by the United States government, providing survival of government operations in the case of catastrophic events. for maintaining the essential operations of the college/university including payroll; ongoing communication with employees, students and families; security; maintenance; as well as housekeeping and food service for student housing" (CDC, 2006, section 2). The CDC advocates social distancing if required by the extent of the outbreak. Social distancing is defined as "...certain actions that are taken by health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease contagious disease
See communicable disease. " (Santa Clara County Public Health Department, para. 1). Social distancing could involve student or faculty isolation.
The CDC offers recommendations regarding continuous education during an outbreak in addition to advising IHEs to use distance learning to continue educating students during a disruption. Among the most noteworthy CDC recommendations are two that relate to class policies. The first recommendation is for faculty to consider liberal class absence policies. Faculty are advised to alter absence policies for classes, examinations, and late assignments. This recommendation is intended to prevent students from being compelled to come to class while still ill because they fear missing assignments (CDC, 2010). The second recommendation is that students should not be required to produce a doctor's note (due to overwhelmed health care providers) to validate an absence from illness (CDC, 2010).
Classroom Strategies and Recommendations for the Postsecondary Technical Instructor
The postsecondary technical instructor is responsible for academic integrity in the classroom and associated laboratory, clinical, and field settings. While some formal plans do offer guidance to assist faculty in the event of a large scale disruption by providing a repository of technology resources (University of Washington Office of the Provost, 2009), many plans are silent on specific classroom approaches to ensure academic integrity. Growing concerns about academic and instructional continuity in the advent of an emergency are fundamentally valid. Postsecondary technical instructors should aim at ensuring that students master content and meet course competencies and learning objectives regardless of a disturbance, large or small. It is vital to provide an environment for optimal student learning and proficiency attainment.
Academic disruption from an emergency may be unavoidable, but preparation and strategies to optimize student learning serve to provide the best opportunities to safeguard academic continuity and instructional integrity in the classroom. Thinking broadly about the implications of a short or long term instructional disruption supports a proactive approach to avoid potential problems from a classroom interruption. Advanced planning ensures optimum instructional delivery and the best outcome for student learning in a challenging situation. Since many institutional plans focus on overall operations, IT, and safety and overlook the classroom perspective, it is vital for postsecondary technical instructors to develop individual class strategies to assure academic and instructional continuity.
As a precursor to developing a specific classroom and continuity of instruction plan, investigate any institutional plan already in place. Familiarize yourself with any existing institutional, college/ school, or departmental continuity of instruction (COI) plan. Formal planning on these levels will outline higher level expectations and assist in developing your classroom academic and instructional continuity plan. If no COI plan currently exists, you will need to develop your classroom plan and expectations based on general institutional policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental .
Consider institutional and technology resources currently available in advance of developing a classroom plan. If your institution uses a learning management system (LMS) such as Blackboard or Desire2Learn, familiarize yourself with system features and consider how those resources could support your course. Load syllabi syl·la·bi
A plural of syllabus. , content, course materials, readings, and any other pertinent class information into the electronic system so students may have uninterrupted access. Require students to demonstrate proficiency with the basic technology skills needed to utilize the system. Develop an alternate classroom plan if there is a possibility that, during a disruption, not all students will have access to off-campus technology. For example, discuss in your syllabus expectations and acceptable options for the completion of student work.
The last institutional level review should be of the institution's general absence policies and specifically those related to emergencies. In some cases, institutional administrators (as does the CDC) support relaxed attendance policies to discourage sick students from appearing in class for fear of missed assignments or examinations. If this is the case at your institution, consider how this might affect student learning and assessment in your particular class.
On the classroom level, postsecondary technical instructors have the responsibility to consider content, assignments, assessments/evaluations, and course policies when planning for academic continuity and instructional integrity. There is an expectation that mastery of the content associated with the course will occur. Assessment is an important component of the teaching and learning process and provides evidence of proficiency. In addition, classroom policies, especially as communicated in the course syllabus, will provide the structure to inform students about requirements and expectations for success. The overarching framework for developing classroom strategies involves three basic considerations: time, technology, and communication. A comprehensive classroom plan will include contingencies for any combination of these intersecting factors (University of Maryland University College The University of Maryland University College (UMUC), located in the unincorporated community of Adelphi in Prince George's County, Maryland in the United States, is the second-largest university in Maryland. , 2009). Because the length of a disruption could involve one class meeting or the majority of the term, design strategies to address both a short and long academic interruption. Relying on technology to compensate for an absence of face-to-face meetings is an excellent strategy but requires additional thought. Some, many, or all students may not have access to technology off campus. Institutionally provided technology may not be operational. Contemplate your delivery options with and without technology support. Finally, consider how you will communicate with students in a timely fashion with and without technology.
Specific Strategies and Recommendations
Considering course content, assessments, and polices within the context of time, technology, and communication, postsecondary technical instructors should develop classroom strategies for instructional continuity and academic integrity. The following suggestions offer a starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo
commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the for the postsecondary technical instructor.
1. Examine course learning objectives and necessary competencies required to be met during an emergency time. The material that must be covered and topics required should be of primary concern. How will you develop content and make it available to students in the class? Explore resources that might be available through the course textbook or publisher that might be beneficial during this time, such as online resources (Emerging Academic Initiatives Continuity of Instruction Planning Team, 2010). Prepare comprehensive course materials (PowerPoint presentations, podcasts, and supportive handouts) that would provide content in the event of classroom disruption.
2. Identify how you will communicate (verbal, written, electronic) with students during any interrupted class time. Determine the technology access students may or may not have available to assist you in deciding how to provide content, materials, and communication (University of Maryland University College, 2008; Virginia Tech, 2009). It may be necessary to create materials and assignments that do not utilize technology if students do not have Internet access See how to access the Internet. or if social distancing is not an option. If social distancing is required, be sure to consider student access to institutional software and other campus resources. It is possible that not all students will have the technology or access available.
3. Determine decision rules and submission guidelines for assignments and class work completion before an emergency occurs. Consider the amount of flexibility you are willing to exercise if the emergency is lengthy and more than half of the class work or assignments are not completed. How will you handle final grades if the final exam Noun 1. final exam - an examination administered at the end of an academic term
final examination, final
exam, examination, test - a set of questions or exercises evaluating skill or knowledge; "when the test was stolen the professor had to make a new set of is the only course assessment left uncompleted? Will make-up work represent the same instructional objectives as the original assignment? How might you protect against "excuse creep" and honor legitimate make-up work requests while not allowing students unaffected more time or resources to complete assignments?
4. Consider implications and alternatives for internships, field experiences, clinical experiences, laboratory sessions, and any other classes that meet somewhere other than a traditional classroom. How will instruction and the experience continue relative to an emergency or change in plan? There is a possibility that these will be unaffected, however it is important to consider how a disruption might impact these classes. Be thoughtful in planning for these types of courses, especially in regard to makeup work.
5. Revisit your class absence policy and put it in writing. Be certain it is consistent with institutional policies. In the case of a pandemic, will you require a doctor's excuse, or will all absences be accepted as legitimate? Will the length of absence be a factor in make-up work? If you are required to adhere to adhere to
verb 1. follow, keep, maintain, respect, observe, be true, fulfil, obey, heed, keep to, abide by, be loyal, mind, be constant, be faithful
2. an institutional policy, assess the impact it might have on student learning. The institution may require a lenient absence policy, but consider whether a student in your class can become proficient if he or she misses a significant amount of content.
6. Create a comprehensive course syllabus that clearly communicates course assignments, instructions for obtaining course materials, grading, institutional and course policies, and outlines procedures for alternate assignments and assessments if necessary. Assure that the syllabus contains enough information so students could, for a brief time continue with the course on their own if required. Clearly outline how course communications might continue if face to face class meetings are interrupted. Inform students about how you will contact them, and vice versa VICE VERSA. On the contrary; on opposite sides. , if classes are cancelled to avoid content disruption. Consider including an emergency or catastrophe readiness statement in all syllabi. East Carolina University East Carolina University is a public, coeducational, intensive research university located in Greenville, North Carolina, United States. Named East Carolina University by statue and commonly known as ECU or East Carolina suggests a pandemic/ catastrophic readiness statement be included in all syllabi and offers a sample syllabus statement: "In the event that this course is no longer able to meet face-to-face, students should (first go to section XX in this syllabus and complete the alternative assignment) and/or (immediately log onto Blackboard and read the announcement.) and/or (etc.)...." (Emerging Academic Initiatives Continuity of Instruction Planning Team, 2010, p. 5). Rochester Institute of Technology (2009) suggests including this statement in all syllabi:
"In the event of a disruption to the normal class schedule or planned activities for this course, the format of this course may be modified to enable completion of the course through other means, including other locations, online work, etc. If this occurs, you will be provided with an addendum to the syllabus including full instructions. Please make sure your contact information is accurate in RIT's emergency alert system (http://emergency.rit.edu) to make sure you receive all necessary communications." (p. 33)
In addition to the regular course syllabus, consider developing a continuity syllabus and making it available to students.
7. Create back-up copies of all course materials and information, including a hard copy (University of Maryland University College, 2008; Rochester Institute of Technology, 2009). If you lose access to institutional technology, it will be important to have copies in other places. Additionally, you need a hard copy of all student information for each term (including email addresses) so you can contact students remotely. Assume that an emergency closure would limit or prohibit access to campus buildings and offices. Instructional materials should be stored in a location or on a device accessible from anywhere with Internet access (Ozarks Technical Community College, 2009). Be sure to update grades in your grade book often.
8. Develop partnerships that might offer alternative locations for class sessions or meetings (Rochester Institute of Technology, 2009). If the campus is closed and students are local and the class size manageable, perhaps local businesspeople would consider allowing the class to meet at their site. This could be especially helpful for certain classes as the location could be linked with the course content.
9. Do not forget about yourself. There is always the possibility that many of your students may be spared and you, the postsecondary technical instructor, will be the one who is sick or affected. Ponder your instructional options if you are the one removed from the academic environment. Using podcasts or a learning management system (LMS) serve as high tech options while a low tech approach such as a guided independent study or writing might be appropriate in certain courses depending on the content (University of Oregon Office of Academic Affairs, n.d.). Developing a working relationship with a colleague might offer the possibility of a substitute instructor if you are unavailable to temporarily perform your classroom obligations.
There is a growing realization that postsecondary institutions face the possibility of academic disruption from a variety of emergencies. The origin of these emergencies may be different and may vary in duration and severity, but all have the potential to impact the postsecondary technical classroom and affect academic and instructional continuity. While institutional plans may address activities broadly, specific academic guidelines and instructional strategies for individual classrooms are limited. The postsecondary technical instructor controls curriculum and bears responsibility for providing a classroom environment that supports student learning and proficiency attainment. While postsecondary technical instructors cannot plan for every possible emergency or catastrophe, we can acknowledge that the academic landscape is dynamic. Thoughtful planning and preparation can limit the negative influence a disruption might have on the continuity of instruction. On the classroom level, we can utilize continuity strategies when designing courses, crafting a syllabus, and creating course materials, assignments, and assessments to be well prepared for potential instructional disruptions. This offers the best chance for academic and instructional continuity to facilitate student learning.
Baltimore City Community College (2009, August). BCCC BCCC Baltimore City Community College (Maryland)
BCCC Butler County Community College
BCCC Bell Centre for Creative Communications
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Any of three viruses of the genus Influenzavirus designated type A, type B, and type C, that cause influenza and influenzalike infections. : Campus preparations. Retrieved from http://www. washington.edu/provost/h1n1message.html
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Dr. Sandra C. Coyner is Associate Professor, College of Education, The University of Akron Enrollment in fall 2006 was 23,539 students. The school offers more than 200 undergraduate degrees  and 100 graduate degrees . The University's best-known program is its College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, which is located in a , Akron, Ohio Akron is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County.GR6 The municipality is located in northeastern Ohio on the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland to the north and Canton to the south, approximately 60 miles (96 km) west of .