Contingency Planning Guide for Online Learning

SIT is facing a unique situation with the proliferation of the novel coronavirus and its global impact. Typically, our contingency plans for adjusting our programs based on local contexts focus on a temporary or extended change of location. However, our current circumstances require us to plan for relocation to an online learning environment to allow students to complete their program. With increasing frequency, sending schools are requesting our plans to continue instruction for their students should they direct them to return to the United States.

We recognize that a one-size-fits-all plan will not adequately address local contexts, technological capacity, and stage of program for all SIT undergraduate programs. For this reason, we are asking for specific plans for your current program that could be implemented in the near future as circumstances require. Our mantra is “simplest is best,” and your plan should not exceed what you are reasonably able to do under short notice for one, more, or all students who may transition to online learning at different points of the semester. The following planning guide and template are designed to assist you in developing and preparing to implement such plans.

Part 1: Plan Development

To transition an immersive, place-based course into an online learning environment, you need to make decisions about what makes sense for your program. Many factors that impact these decisions are based on your local context: broadband strength, available hardware (webcams, headsets/mics, etc), time zone differences with your students’ locations in the United States, point in the semester when the transition is taking place, and the turnaround time to make this transition. Additional factors include familiarity and comfort with online teaching and learning for program staff and students, as well as the time and resources available to adapt course content, activities, assignments, and assessments.

To help you think through these decisions, consider the following questions:

How will you adapt your program?

  • How will you communicate with students and provide feedback?
  • How will you modify the course schedule, assignments, or activities?
  • How will you work with your program staff and guest lecturers to adapt/deliver content in an online course?
  • How will presentations (group and/or individual) be conducted or adapted?
  • How will you engage the displaced student(s) in the learning community?
  • How will you balance your attention between the group in residence and the students continuing remotely?
  • Will you work with homestay families to continue communication/interaction/ learning opportunities?

Does it make sense to incorporate synchronous (real-time) components to continue instruction? If so:

  • How will you use web conferencing for “live” interactions?
  • How will you use streaming options to include remote students in program activities?

Does it make sense to incorporate asynchronous (non real-time interactions or recorded content) components to continue instruction? If so:

  • How will you use readings, powerpoints, or digital content (films, podcasts, etc) to share information and facilitate learning?
  • How will you share content from guest lecturers, site visits, group discussions, and debriefings?
  • How will you use message boards/forums?

What features of the Learning Management System (Moodle) will be most useful for adapting your program to an online environment?

  • Forums
  • Content management (uploading readings, powerpoints, videos, and other materials)
  • Gradebook
  • Other:

What features of web conferencing tools (WebEx, Skype for Business, or other) will be most useful to adapt your program to an online environment?

  • Synchronous meetings with the class/program
  • Synchronous office hours
  • Recording lectures/presentations and uploading for remote, asynchronous viewing
  • Providing feedback on student work

Part 2: Preparation for Implementation

Answer these questions to prepare yourself, program staff, and students to implement the plan to transition to an online learning environment:

What technology is required to implement this plan?

  • What technology do programs need (hardware, software, connectivity, apps)?
    • Hardware (computers, webcams, headsets, microphones, etc):
    • Software (video/multimedia editing, specific moodle/LMS plug-ins, etc):
    • Cloud-based Applications (web conferencing, digital storytelling, infographics, data visualization, etc): 
  • What do students need (hardware, software, connectivity, apps)?
    • Hardware (computers, webcams, headsets, microphones, etc):
    • Software (video/multimedia editing, specific moodle/LMS plug-ins, etc):
    • Cloud-based Applications (web conferencing, digital storytelling, infographics, data visualization, etc): 

What training is required to implement this plan?

  • Technology: Moodle Basics (navigation, customization, forums)
  • Technology: WebEx Basics (scheduling, recording, accessing, and uploading sessions)
  • Pedagogy: Online Teaching & Learning Basics (instructor presence, instructor feedback, best practices)
  • Other:

What additional online learning support is required to implement this plan?

  • Technology: Mentoring
  • Pedagogy: Mentoring

What challenges do you anticipate in developing or implementing your plan and what support would assist you in overcoming these challenges?

Part 3: Completing the Plan

Once complete, share with your Academic Dean and the Dean for Assessment & Learning Support (kathryn.inskeep@sit.edu). For assistance in completing your plan, please join one of the training sessions offered by the Online Learning Team coordinated by Rochelle Rothman (rochelle.rothman@sit.edu), Instructional Designer. When you need to implement the plan, she will share materials to assist in developing your online courses.