Remote Planning for Faculty

In the event of an extended absence from the campus, we can minimize the disruption to instruction by utilizing the many remote services offered by the campus.  At the same time, we must be mindful that widespread closures may burden not just our own systems and services, but also those at a national or even international level.  Guidance in this section will include recommendations for using the systems at hand in the most efficient way possible.   

Keep Lines of Communication Open

It is critical to stay in consistent communication with students during a prolonged closure: students are likely to have concerns about their academic progress and may be facing added personal challenges, depending on the reason for the closure.  As soon as practical after the closure is announced, we recommend sending students a message that informs them that you'll be in frequent contact with them during the closure and that you'll be following-up in the near future with a specific plan for completing content and assessments during the closure.

Students may also be eager to reach out to you personally, so it is important to set expectations for how often you'll be available and how frequently you'll respond.  It is recommended that you check email at least daily and respond within 24 hours, but if you know this will not be feasible create a communication plan and let students know early in the process what to expect.  

Recommended Communication Methods

  • A discussion board for Q & A can be set up on Blackboard for students to ask general questions.  This gives you the opportunity to respond in a forum that everyone can see instead of responding to individual emails.  You and students can subscribe to the discussion board in order to receive email notifications when posts have been made to the discussion board.
  • Hawksites (CampusPress): for faculty who already have an existing blog or website on Hawksites, this could be an alternative way to post information and keep students up to date.  If you are not already familiar with Hawksites, this communication method is not recommended.  
  • Third-Party tools: resources such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, direct messaging, etc. can be useful in some cases, but it is preferable that the above options be tried first unless these tools were being used in the class prior to the prolonged closure.  The caution for some third-party tools is that some students may not have access to these resources; may lack appropriate devices; or may need additional support that will not be available.    

Consider Available Resources

The campus owns or licences a number of tools and services that can be utilized remotely.  Additionally, we have compiled two additional lists of known and readily available resources that might be useful as you plan alternative ways to deliver content and work through assignments and assessments during the closure.

Note: tools not listed in "Campus or SUNY Resources" section are only meant to serve as suggestions of widely available free or low-cost tools that could serve to replace tools that may be available to faculty and students on-campus, but which may not be available or may be cost prohibitive to replace for home use during a prolonged closure.  The use of these tools is not supported by New Paltz IT support.

Campus or SUNY Resources

  • Blackboard: our campus LMS has course shells for every course offered and automatically enrolls all faculty and students into the shells.  For most faculty, Blackboard should be the primary way to provide content, assignments, and assessments to students during a prolonged closure. 
  • LinkedIn Learning: an online platform with thousands of high-quality video tutorials available at no cost to New Paltz faculty, students, and staff.
  • Office 365: Office 365 can be downloaded free of charge to personal computers or devices by current New Paltz faculty, staff, and students.  
  • Hawksites (CampusPress): a WordPress based platform for creating blogs and websites.  All current New Paltz users have access to this service.
  • Google Suite:  All students have access to Google Apps for Education with their Hawkmail account.  Faculty and staff can get a Hawkmail account by request or can utilize a personal google account (at their own discretion) during the outage.  Popular apps include Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Sites.
  • Web-Conferrencing:
    • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra: a web-conferencing tool built directly into the Blackboard LMS.  All faculty and students have access to this tool through their class sites.
    • WebEx: an additional web-conferencing tool.  All faculty and staff have access to this service, but in order to conduct conferences with a class, students will need to be sent a link to connect.

Web Resources

  • Ted Talks / TedEd: Professional speakers discussing a broad range of topics
  • Publisher Tools
    • Downloadable content
    • Publisher platforms
    • Integrated tools 
    • Case studies

OpenSource or 3rd Party Software

  • Screencast O'Matic: tool to make short screencasts or lectures
  • Gimp: a free image editing tool

Think of Low-Tech Solutions for Your Contingency Plan

Our service providers do not anticipate that we will experience system degradation in the event that we switch to a fully online environment during the course of a prolonged closure, but this would be a largely unprecedented event, so it is important to not unduly tax the system.  Remember, equivalent learning does not need to be “high tech!” 

Even if you are familiar with Blackboard; instructional technology tools; and/or media tools, we recommend using lower-tech solutions where possible and reserving media and web-conferencing solutions for situations where such approaches are really warranted.  If you have not extensively used Blackboard or other instructional tools in the past, keep things simple!  Trying to learn multiple tools in a compressed period of time will be unnecessarily stressful and is not required to produce an effective experience for your students.

Be Flexible and Consider Alternative Content and Assignments

Guidance for “time on task” from the New York State Education Department states that there should be 45 hours of learning time per semester credit in an online course.  For example, for a three-credit course that meets for 15 weeks, that equates to 9 hours of learning time a week. 

Before you consider the questions below, calculate the appropriate time on task for each of your courses and keep this in mind as you plan any lectures, content creation, assignments, and/or assessments necessary. 

When delivery is fully online, time on task may include some or all of the following: lectures; readings; watching videos or interacting with other media content; all assignments and projects; discussions; and tests, surveys, and/or quizzes. 

Don't Overlook Accessibility 

As you plan to move content, assignments, and assessments online, don't forget to consider the needs of students in your class who are registered with the Disability Resource Center.  Check the "Accommodate" system (located in on the Resources tab), if necessary, and then make sure the modifications you have planned take into account accommodation requirements and/or meet basic accessibility guidelines.  If they do not meet the needs of all your students, then you will need to consider what equivalent content, assignments, and/or assessments you will offer these individuals to meet the course or learning objectives or whether you could offer the entire class multiple options to provide level access.


Article ID: 99754
Tue 3/3/20 9:46 AM
Mon 8/10/20 12:59 PM