How to Hold Your Class During Emergency Closures

Though a short break from classes due to emergency closures may be a nice break, it's always a good idea to have a back-up plan for facilitating your class. Perhaps the closure lasts longer than expected or maybe you have a special guest lecturer who cannot be rescheduled.

This set of recommendations provides tips and guidance in the event you need to move your classes online due to unforeseen circumstances*.

Communicate Through Announcements

Post Announcements with written or recorded messages for your students. This is the fastest way to communicate with your entire class from within Canvas. Suggest to students that they check their notifications settings to allow for copies of Announcements to be forwarded to their email address.

Host Class Virtually through BlueJeans

In the event campus is closed due to hazardous weather, schedule a virtual meeting through BlueJeans. BlueJeans is available in every Canvas course [if you do not see BlueJeans on your left hand navigation, follow these steps to make it available].
  • Set up a virtual meeting in your course using BlueJeans.
  • Post an Announcement in your course notifying students of the date and time of the meeting.  Let them know they can access the meeting through the BlueJeans tab in your Canvas course.
  • Record the meeting for students who are not able to attend. Recording options are available both when scheduling the meeting in Canvas and during the session. 

Set up a Class Discussion

Setting up a Canvas discussion is an easy way to allow instructors to discuss course content or assignments with students, or for students to share work or ask questions.

Share Course Documents and Information with Files

Files in Canvas
The Files area in Canvas provides a place for storing all course materials. Add files such as documents, PDFs, slides, or spreadsheets.
Google Drive

Google Collaborations are also available through the Collaborations area. Collaborations can be shared with one, some, or all students in a course, and options include Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. 

In the event a file size takes up a great deal of space, Northwestern University offers all instructors and students unlimited space through Box.

Share Lecture Video and Audio

To record or share large or long lecture videos or screen share presentations, you have two options:

  • Schedule, host, and record a BlueJeans session with or without your students. You can then share the video in your course. BlueJeans provides whiteboards for annotation, slides and screen share, and video and audio capture. Learn more about BlueJeans
  • Panopto is available for more complex lecture and screen capture, and offers robust editing features and view analytics. Learn more about Panopto.
  • For short, simple videos, you can use the video recorder available in the rich content editor to record a video or audio message for your students. The tool is available in several areas in Canvas and can be used when posting an Announcement.

Assignments & Grading

Assignments in Canvas allows students to submit assignments online, as well as allowing instructors to grade and provide feedback online. 

Update Your Home Page

  • Set the Syllabus as your home page and include a message about new online components and expectations.
  • If you are using Announcements to communicate with your students, suggest that they check their notifications preferences to ensure they will receive email copies.
  • Include contact information for you and your TAs.
  • Consider offering office hours through BlueJeans

* Please refer to the Using Canvas to Facilitate Classes During Emergency Closure page in the Canvas Learning Center for up-to-date recommendations.

Image Credit: Northwestern University by Jaysin Trevin