Emergency Course Continuity

When unforeseeable events occur, the university may cancel classes. University closings can interrupt the flow of a course, displacing due dates and assessments. Below are some tips for using technology to continue a class while the university’s doors are closed.

Digitize your class

Decide which elements of the class to bring online– it’s important to focus on the materials that will best help students achieve the learning goals for the course. Once you have made these decisions, set up a Sakai site or other online course shell (if you have not already). A course shell is a centralized space for hosting online assignments, materials, and discussions. While these tips are focused on using Sakai, many of them can be applied to similar systems.


  • Upload notes to Resources, and send an announcement to students letting them know they’re available.
  • Use Windows Movie Maker, Audacity, or GarageBand to create audio notes.
  • Use screencasting software like Kaltura or Screencast-o-matic to create audio lectures and upload the files to Resources.
  • Use the Adobe Connect tool or other videoconferencing software to conduct a live online class.
  • Upload the presentation to Resources with notes in each slide/section and include pointers to relevant pages in the textbook.
  • Create voiceover narration for your slides using a voice-over-PPT tool.
  • Use screencasting software like Kaltura or Screencast-o-matic to create audio lectures and upload the files to Resources.
  • Use the Adobe Connect tool to show slides live.
Blackboard, whiteboard, or projector
  • Create a document of the text/graphics you would to show on the board, and upload them to Resources.
  • Record a live performance of your lecture with a webcam.
  • Using a webcam, use Adobe Connect to conduct a live class.

Participation and collaboration

  • Create short assignments for students, and upload to the Drop Box or Assignments tools.
  • During normal class time, ask students to log into the Sakai Chat Room and ask and respond to questions about readings.
  • Set up Forums on Sakai and ask students to participate in synchronous discussions about class topics.
Peer discussion
  • Use Sakai’s Chat Room to lead a live group discussion.
  • Have students collaborate in a Google Doc to write a short essay or do labwork and submit it in Sakai’s Assignments.
  • Group students and set up private group meetings in the Adobe Connect tool, allowing students to collaborate via text, audio, or video.
  • Have students create voiceover narration on presentations using Kaltura or VoiceThread.
  • Have students present to each other using the Adobe Connect tool.


Paper-based assignments
  • Upload assignments to the Sakai Assignments tool, where students can submit electronically.
  • Use Kaltura or other screen casting software to create personalized audiovisual feedback for submissions.
Quizzes and tests
  • Upload a copy of the test to the Sakai Assignments tool, where students can submit electronically.
  • Have students upload papers as topics in the Forums tool and let other students reply to the topics with critiques.
  • Use the Sakai Assignments tool and set it for Peer Review.  Students are rndomly assignned other students papers to review and give a grade.

Personal assistance

One-to-one office hours
  • Notify students that you will be available for questions via email and respond to them individually.
  • Use the Adobe Connect tool to hold a one-to-one audio or video meeting with a student.
Group support
  • Notify your students that you will be available for questions in Sakai’s Chat Room at a specific time.
  • Start a videoconference in Adobe Connect where students pose questions and you respond via video.

Contact your students

Once you’ve set up your materials online, inform your students of your expectations for their participation in the course shell. The most effective way to reach them is through an email blast, since they will likely be keeping up with their university email address for changes to the university’s situation. You can send an email blast through Sakai using the Mailtool or Announcements tool.