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Getting Ready

Below you will find a series of technology-focused steps to help prepare you to migrate your course online in the case of an emergency.   But equally important are basic considerations for how you will teach effectively during a period when either internet resources or the physical Canisius Campus is not available to you or your students.

Modifying Your Course Plan and Syllabus

Depending on the likely emergency time frame, you'll need to modify your basic course plan. 

  • What is no longer feasible, due to the suspension of face-to-face classes, or the loss of a web resource or resources? 
  • What is still doable, and can proceed as originally planned, or with some modification? (deadlines, extended, or a switch to paper format instead of electronic submission.)
  • What learning objectives, related content, and activities many need to be scrapped and replaced altogether?  
  • What can be added to the course that can take the place of lost activities, or even content?  (Here's where the lists below become important.)

Communicate with students at least twice in the process of changing your course:

  1. The ASAP Announcement: in an email, in D2L, or in a classroom, make clear to your students that changes are coming, so they should be watching or listening to them.  ASAP announcements really only tell students that the course is still a going concern, and to be especially attentive for changes in the course plan.
  2. The Modified Syllabus.  Once you've at least roughed in a course plan change, edit your syllabus, or even create an addendum document that as briefly and clear as possible, spells out to students what they need to do during the next several days or weeks.  You may make further changes as necessary later, but the Modified Syllabus sets the course on a new path so students can continue working and learning in your course.  It's the "course-plan-until-further-notice!"  Subsequent modifications can be announced to students with suitable advanced notice, but try, in a single document, to get the big modifications made so students can more easily manage the changes on their end.  While you wish to preserve the learning goals and rigor of your course, try to keep your modifications simple and if possible, repetitive.  This is good advice for any course planning.

The Modified Syllabus should include:

  • What is exactly is changing, and what student responsibilities are.  Also, make clear what students are no longer required to do, at least temporarily.  (For example, this may be telling them "Don't come to campus for class!")
  • What is not changing.  This can simply be "for items not specifically mentioned here, consult the syllabus as originally posted," although you may wish to emphasize a few specifics.  
  • Additional resources required.  Students are responsible for learning how to use D2L features, even if you haven't used them before in your class.  Students are usually pretty strong in Google-based tools.  But they may need time to learn to use other tools if they are complicated.  Encourage - incentivize! - students to help each other.  
  • A few simple, reliable communications methods.  This may be email, but it could also be the D2L News Feed, (which can encourage students to log into your class more frequently.)  That way, they know where to pay attention.

Below is a list of things, each of which you could adopt on short-notice.  However, for a longer period be sure to check out more comprehensive resources:

Do you need help with D2L? Here's our complete tutorial list for faculty.

Interested in Web Conferencing/Meeting with your students?

Online Teaching and Learning

Even if it's only temporary, you may need to migrate your class to an online format.  Many Canisius faculty have been teaching online successfully for years, and COLI has guides for online and distance pedagogy

Our Quick Tools Reference Guide for Teaching Online. 

COLI Guide to Teaching Online. - our comprehensive guide.  

Our complete resources for online teaching and learning. - a complete list of our resources.


  • What will you do in case of a school/campus closing? (Reschedule class or conduct class online?) 
  • How will you communicate with your students?
  • Do you have a plan for each face-to-face class period if the Internet goes down on campus? 
  • Discuss this plan with your students on the first day of class.
  • Add this plan to your syllabus.


  • Web Conferencing/Meeting (Live-Remote)

Course Materials

  • Paper no longer an option?  Upload or link course content in D2L

Assignments, Quizzes, and Exams

Help & Support

E-mail the Help Desk at:

or Call the Help Desk at: 716.888.8340

Back to Preparedness for Academic Continuity

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