Continuity of Instruction

Here is a link to the Google Docs version of this guide. This will have the latest information.

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Continuity of Instruction


An approach to teaching and learning that takes place when there has been a disruption to normal operations of the school or class.

Preparing for Disruptions:

Determine your emergency communications approach/location at the beginning of the semester and outline it in your syllabus and on Canvas.  Each student should understand your expectations in the event of class cancellation.  Your contact information, syllabus, course schedule and any important information related to the course should be available electronically.  Students should be able to see course information remotely.

Identify a reliable place for posting information such as documents or media and make sure you know how to post materials to this place.  You will more than likely use your Canvas course but if you are using something else, you will need to indicate this from the start of the course.   Create a class protocol — involving your students in the process where possible. (Check announcements first. Email. Refer to Syllabus, Appropriate Canvas Module, Check in during class time via ZOOM)

Structure your online course materials in such a way that students will know where to look for information even if they have not heard from you!  This might be as simple as using Weekly Modules and indicating that all work for the classes that are missed will be found in the corresponding module.  You might also choose to create an area at the top of your course or module and call it Start Here or Look Here First.

Familiarize yourself with alternative resources that can be added to your course remotely in the event that access to campus is not possible for an extended period of time.  The library databases as well as OERs are excellent places to start.

Determine the flow of information, assignments and feedback. Practice with your students. Review the steps from time to time.  Consider doing a where you simulate closing the campus for a week.

Some Basic Continuity Strategies

Identify a tool/approach for virtual office hours. This could be WebEX room, a discussion board forum, a live chat, or a conference call. How will you be answering student questions while you are not able to come to campus.

Think about whether your class time needs to be synchronous.  If so, decide which tool you will be using. Practice with your students. (Google Hangout, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype etc.)  Note that not all of these are free.  MU uses ZOOM—access through and click on “Sign-on Links” and then click on “Zoom.” Take some time to learn how these tools work. Practice using them with your students.(Make sure have the correct equipment such as cameras and microphones.

Master tools for creating digital presentations–lectures, narrated slideshows, tutorials/screencasts, or audio presentations.

Panopto ( Sign in using Canvas.

Free: Jing (

Free with $15 upgrade Screencast-o-matic (

These tools are not generally difficult to use and you can and should be able to create basic files, export and post them to your Canvas course and assign them to your students.

You can easily create content and store it in your course using Panopto, which is included in every Canvas course at Marymount. (

You can also upload video files directly into Canvas Rich Content Editor. (Here is a link to the Canvas Help Document on how uploading video.)

Master the uploading of documents and resources to your course. This includes scanning in print materials.  You should know how to find and incorporate digital materials into an online course.

  • You should master the library resources in your discipline and be in regular contact with the library liaison for your program. New materials regularly become available and you should be aware of these, particularly those which can be placed on reserve or linked to your Canvas.
  • You should learn to scan paper documents as PDF files.
  • Capture Screencasts on the desktop
  • Embed media from the web into your courses

Experiment with Assignments based on Collaborative Applications:

    1. Google Apps (Docs/Slides/Sheets/Diagrammings etc.)
    2. Padlet (example
    3. (
    4. Evernote
    5. Microsoft OneNote

Note that these tools can be used to keep up the momentum of your course.  A discussion from class might easily be carried over to a discussion board.

You can post a diagram/Outline/Mind Map etc. and have the students add onto it and explain their additions in by posting to a journal or discussion board.

Assign students into groups and give them a workspace online.  Start by creating group areas inside of Canvas and assign some regular group work to your students. Another possibility is to assign groups by name and have each group create a shared Google Document or Padlet and keep the link live in your course.

Here is a sample Google Doc that is shared with a group. (

Of course there is always the handy Discussion Forum! If all else fails, students can be assigned to work in groups and asked to communicate via a dedicated discussion forum.

Practice using a variety of assessments in your course. Be prepared to collect student work and provide feedback using remote tools.  The Canvas Assignment feature allows for a variety of file types and connects automatically with the Canvas Gradebook, where an instructor can post feedback in several formats.

Consider alternative formats for assignments as well. Students may be able to produce more complex products if they have the time. Canvas and other tools allow you to collect and grade a variety of student work–consider experimenting with assignment formats. Hint: There is a grading rubric for just about anything!

And Finally – Consider a Practice Fire Drill:

Take the time to practice your continuity protocol with one or all of your courses.  One approach is to have a ‘practice fire drill’ week during which you simulate class being cancelled due to a school closure.  You may find that the you and your students respond well to working this way.


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