Whether moving online in a hurry, or planning far ahead for online teaching, you'll want to think carefully about your syllabus in the online environment.
One of the easiest actions you can take to prepare your course for temporary online teaching is to post your syllabus and other electronic content to your Canvas course site. For more information, please read the Canvas Community guide, How do I use the Syllabus as an instructor?.
Syllabi typically include a section related to attendance, and it is here that you might consider including expectations that are flexible, possibly more flexible than is traditional for you. Please review the JMU Medical Excuse Policy for more information.
Another part of your syllabus might address consequences for submitting late work. Consider your learning goals and how you can preserve these while allowing more flexibility for due dates than might be typical. In the event of illness, students will likely do their best work if they realize their professor values the learning and supports them in completing assignments as they are able.
You should post your syllabus on Canvas. It may be helpful to date the syllabus and, if needed, change this date to reflect versions of the document that include any alterations. Clearly communicating with students about the current version will assure that both you and your students are working from the same copy. You may want to insert a disclaimer in your syllabus that allows for alterations to be made regarding deadlines, policies, and course expectations. This will provide you with the opportunity to assess the situation and use your judgment to add flexibility if needed.
Your syllabus should have course objectives written in measurable terms that reflect the level of learning you expect. For more information on writing course objectives and assuring these are written at the appropriate cognitive level, contact CFI or JMU Libraries.
The learning objectives drive the instruction in the course and should be aligned with measurement of student learning outcomes. As much as possible, the objectives should remain intact, but the ways that teaching and learning occur can change significantly.
In the event that your instruction cannot continue as originally planned, consider the core objectives and brainstorm alternate ways for students to achieve these outcomes. For example, you may have intended to lecture on specific content, but you may be able to achieve the same outcome by having students read newly selected material.
Another aspect of rigor involves assignments. There are multiple ways students can provide evidence of their learning; brainstorming alternatives to original assignments will provide options. For example, students might have been expected to make a class presentation. Could the learning objectives still be met by having the students develop an online, narrated presentation?
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