Why do this?
Although the prospect of a snow day may hold some appeal, there are good reasons to offer an alternative class. Your department’s policy may require it, your students may want it, or you may want to avoid cutting parts of your syllabus or having to condense topics. Reorganizing class for a snow day offers an opportunity to try something new in your course, and possibly something better.
Ideas for Online Class Activities
There are a few easy ways to conduct classes online that provide the equivalent of a classroom experience or a means to assign work. A more detailed description of the programs is down below.
Flip your classroom during the closure and create a video lecture at home with Panopto and post it in Canvas for students to watch.
Host a synchronous (real time) class meeting in Zoom and record it for anyone who misses the session. If you flipped your classroom, this could be a webinar to discuss the lecture.
Create classroom activities that can be completed remotely, such as:
Use collaboration tools for activities:
Flipgrid (Instructors post discussion prompts and students respond with short videos)
Padlet (Instructors and students can collaborate together on boards, documents, and webpages that are easy to read and fun to contribute to)
Teams (a Microsoft Business collaboration tool that includes the ability to chat, share files, make video calls, etc.)
If you were planning on having student presentations, have them create their own videos using a tool like Panopto and share them in Canvas
Overview of Zoom and Panopto for Classes during a Closure
Recording a Lecture (Panopto)
Real Time Class Meetings (Zoom)
Tips for Using Zoom
Connectivity problems happen – let students know that that’s ok and they should just rejoin as they can.
If you have access to a microphone or headset use it – it’ll nearly always be better audio than your computer’s built in options.
Control background noise and disruption by asking students to stay muted unless they are going to speak. Encourage them to use earbuds or headphones and refrain from typing on the laptop unless they are muted.
Consider using the text-messaging tool built into Zoom or keeping the video feed off.
This saves internet bandwidth and allows participants to listen comfortably without worrying about their appearance.
If you’re running a session with students on campus and online, designate someone in the room with you to be actively monitoring and engaging with the online students in the chat.
This is a good way to make sure the online students have a voice without you trying to do everything at once
For synchronous (real time) online sessions – be aware that you’re often being invited into a student’s home and be understanding.
Although we’d suggest that you recommend students to find a quiet space and set aside the time, they (and you) may not always be able to control interruptions by roommates, spouses, children, and pets.
Especially with snow days, I’d suggest recording live sessions so that students can rewatch what they missed if they need to leave the session for a while.