Keep Teaching: Academic Continuity Plan for Prolonged University or Building Closures

Any number of unforeseen circumstances may require prolonged closures of the campus or campus buildings, and it is important to prepare for the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students. USC Aiken has the resources available to avoid class cancellations if instructors are put in a position to temporarily teach a face-to-face class in an online format with minimal notice. This guide will provide you with some actions to take when making that shift quickly to stay on schedule for the semester. Please know that USC Aiken’s Office of Distance Learning is the primary support resource for Blackboard and faculty training for pedagogy and technology for learning.

Join the USC Aiken Keep Teaching Continuity Organization on Blackboard for more helpful resources, the latest announcements, and to engage directly with USC Aiken Distance Learning staff. To join the organization, you should log into Blackboard first, click the link, click “Enroll” on the left hand side and then “submit.” You will now be a participant in the organization.

What do face-to-face instructors need to do to prepare to begin teaching remotely?

First, you should determine if you are able to log into USC Aiken Blackboard to access your courses. We strongly recommend you use the Firefox web browser with Blackboard. If you can successfully login to Blackboard proceed with your communication plan.

Columbia processes all new hires and once you are in the system you should be given credentials that include a VIP number, a Blackboard user ID, a USCA number, and 2 email accounts (one “@usca.edu” email and a Columbia email). Users are now able to sign into Blackboard using any of their Columbia credentials since it is now authenticated through CAS via the Multifactor Authentication using the Duo Security system. The primary system protected by MFA is Self-Service Carolina (SSC). If a user gets an authentication issue and they are fairly certain they have the correct current password, other than testing your network username and password, the first step in troubleshooting this issue is to try signing in with a different browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome (Internet Explorer is not recommended).  If you only have one browser, or don't want to use a different one, please follow the instructions to clear your cache.


Establish Your Communication Plan With Your Face-To-Face Students Using Blackboard

When you realize you have to move your class to online quickly, consider the following:

Communicate with your students right away: Even if you don't have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible, informing them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking Office 365 email or Blackboard, so you can get them more details soon. We encourage you to utilize Blackboard’s Announcement Tool to distribute your messages to your students.

Campus closures or emergencies will be reported at the USCA.edu website and communicated through campus email and should include estimates of how long you may need to teach your course remotely. You can check the Help Desk website for information about the current availability of IT services.
Your department may issue more details about the situation and guidelines about their expectations for classes. Administrators may want to have many of the department's classes handled in similar ways, so check with departmental leaders before doing too much planning.

Determine How You Will Teach Your Course

Even though your classes will not meet on campus you have the ability to interact and communicate with your students using live video, recorded lectures, files and multimedia, discussions and assignment submissions, or through a combination of these delivery methods.

You may choose to hold your courses synchronously at the same scheduled time you currently conduct your classes using the supported internal video conferencing tools available in Blackboard. If you are familiar with using video conferencing software, like FaceTime or Skype, you may want to hold your scheduled classes using Blackboard Collaborate or Yuja Video Conference to conduct your face-to-face classes as scheduled.

You may choose to conduct your courses asynchronously and record your lectures and upload them to your Blackboard course using available tools: Yuja, YouTube, importing MP3 audio files, or importing MP4 video files.
Creating content in Blackboard can be complex, but you can upload documents, create items with text, create assignment submissions, and even create class discussion spaces to encourage your students to engage with the course content.

Update Your Syllabus

Consider addressing emergencies and expectations up front in your syllabus, so students know what will happen if classes are cancelled, including procedures you will implement. You may want to consider suspending attendance policies temporarily and enhance your communication policies for your students to have them establish their internet access to Blackboard either through computers or mobile devices. Communicate any updates to your course policies through announcements.


Convert Your Documents, Assignments, and Activities

Consider what information, assignments, and activities will happen over the next few weeks, and determine what content needs to be incorporated and organized within your Blackboard course. You may want to upload PowerPoint presentations, create assignment submission spaces, or create opportunities for discussions. Utilize the Blackboard Help and USC Aiken’s Distance Learning support services if you need assistance.


Utilize Your USC Aiken Support Services

USC Aiken’s Office of Distance Learning can help instructors with transitioning content to Blackboard and help with the logistics of teaching a course remotely, even if it may be temporary. Please do not hesitate to ask for assistance.

Access the Remote Teaching Checklist and join the USC Aiken Keep Teaching Continuity Organization for more helpful resources, the latest announcements, and to communicate directly with USC Aiken Distance Learning staff.