It was bound to happen sooner or later. Classes canceled at Boise State due to severe winter weather. And while it might be great for ski resorts and the persistent drought, it has caused inconveniences for students and faculty. For instance, when classes were canceled at 5 p.m. last Thursday, it was hardly enough time for many students to know about it. As I was leaving my office, I was feeling sorry for those students who were just coming to classes, totally unaware of the cancellation. Yeah . . . weather in Boise is hardly EVER severe enough for classes to be canceled, so no one is really ready for this. But we CAN be prepared to deal with what happens afterward.
For instance, how can faculty help students catch up on work that was planned for last week or revise their syllabi? If you are using Blackboard, it’s easy to update your syllabus, post an announcement (which can be emailed too), and let everyone know about any changes in the course schedule. If you want to keep your schedule the same, you could turn your missed face-to-face classes into an online session, with students participating in a Blackboard discussion forum and taking an online quiz, for instance. Or, you could meet them online via the Collaboration tools in Blackboard or with any number of instant messaging or free web conferencing services (take a look at WizIQ, for instance.)
If you had planned a lecture for the missed classes, you could record the lecture and post the audio file to your Blackboard site. If you wanted to include your PowerPoint, you could narrate it using Camtasia and then publish it as a flash file, also uploading it to Blackboard. (We have Camtasia loaded on some of our computer in StudioD.)
Just about all of these strategies assume you have some way of contacting your students. This is why it is so important to make sure that students know you will be sending email to their Boise State account and that they should check that account at least once a day (preferably in the early evening before their night classes!)
And remember, if you need any help with any kind of multimedia enhancements to your course, such as recorded lectures, you can contact us at Academic Technologies. We have a talented staff of people who are ready to figure things out and move quickly on what you need.