Continuity of Instruction

This document is designed to address the challenges of continuing instruction without being able to meet with students face-to-face. Anything from extreme weather to family emergencies can disrupt scheduled courses.

The tools and strategies described here can minimize the effects of those unexpected changes. Since online courses are at a distance, the expectation is they will continue as planned.


Currently, a Blackboard course shell is automatically generated for every Shawnee State University course offering including face-to-face, blended, and distance learning sections. Each course shell is populated with students enrolled in the course. The shell is active and an instructor is able to make content available to students at any time. It is strongly recommended that this platform be used in the event that face-to-face classes are temporarily suspended.

It is a long-standing requirement that a course syllabus must be developed by each instructional faculty and distributed to students at the start of the academic term. A syllabus is defined as “a summary outline of a discourse, treatise, or course of study or of examination requirements.” This syllabus should be included with the course in Blackboard.

Teaching and Learning Center Blackboard Resources

Considerations Prior to the Start of Class:

  • Record e-mail and phone number of your director or other appropriate point of contact for your primary program or department.
  • Back-up critical teaching materials, including lectures, assignments, instructions, quizzes, discussion topics, the syllabus, schedule, and other artifacts. You may be able to provide these materials to your students via the Internet in the event of a significant classroom interruption. (You may not be able to save some materials such as reserved readings, library resources, etc.)

Once Class Has Begun:

  • Record and backup student names, e-mail addresses, and phone contact information.
  • Access the course roster, highlight student information and copy (will not include phone contacts). Open a new spreadsheet, and then paste student information.
  • Prepare a backup working copy of your gradebook to ensure continuity of grading and reporting to students and administrators if your primary online gradebook is not available for an extended period.
  • At the start of the course recommend that students download the syllabus.
  • Let students know of your plans for continuing instruction and communication in the event of disaster or significant interruption.
  • Remind students regularly about the importance of keeping backup electronic copies of their assignments.

FAQs for Faculty

How do I get IT services?

Please direct all IT requests to

Requests should include:

  1. A detailed description of your issue or request
  2. If you are contacting us about a course issue, please include the course code and section number
  3. Your off campus contact information in case it is needed

What resources are available to me as I teach remotely?

The Teaching and Learning Center has compiled a set of resources:

Help for Transitioning Courses Online

What about disability access? How do I best support my students?

We acknowledge the significant effort required to quickly adapt your courses to online instruction. We want to collaborate with you to ensure that access for students with disabilities is maintained through this transition. Some students may encounter disability-related barriers with online instruction or assessment (e.g. students who use assistive technology, students with medical limitations on screen usage).

Below are some guidelines for universal design:

Use clear, consistent layouts and organization schemes for presenting content, and make instructions and expectations clear for activities, projects, and assigned reading.

  • Offer outlines, scaffolding tools, and adequate opportunities for practice to help students learn.
  • When selecting new materials, try to find videos that are already captioned, and articles that are available in a text-searchable format. This means that you can highlight and search the text within the document (Text-Searchable Document Example (PDF)).
  • Images can be made accessible to blind and low-vision students by providing captions or inserting alt text into the image. Use large, bold fonts on uncluttered pages with plain backgrounds and color combinations that are high contrast.
  • Provide flexibility and understanding as this experience may cause disruption to the student’s home life and available resources – which may negatively impact a student’s disability symptoms.

Pro tip—Use Blackboard Ally to assist with accessible layout and design.

Are the expectations for Instructor compliance different for online classes?

  • All certified accommodations must be provided, whether in seated or online courses. If you have notice of accommodation/s for a student those must be honored regardless of how the course is delivered. However, accommodations may look very different in online course.

How will exam accommodations work? Will Accessibility Services proctor online exams?

  • Extended time on exams as an accommodation generally only applies to traditional, time-limited exams. If you decide to offer alternative means of assessment (e.g. essays, non-timed exams, project work), then a student’s extended time may no longer be applicable. We encourage to speak with registered students if that is the case.
  • Accessibility Services will not be proctoring exams while the University’s instruction remains online only. All exams should be administered online or through other remote assessment methods by faculty. Academic departments are responsible for setting up extended testing time within the software platform they use. Blackboard allows instructors to set time and extended time for exams. You can use this link for step by step instructions for doing this on Blackboard: Extending time for a student on a Blackboard Test
  • Please communicate with your students to discuss their exam accommodations in your courses.

What if a student who is not currently receiving Accessibility Services asks me for an accommodation?

  • The procedure for all accommodations remains the same. Only students with letters from SSU’s ADA Services office may request accommodations. Instructors already know who these students are and what accommodations they require. However, students can learn more and apply for services on the Accessibility Services site. While courses are online, intake appointments will be conducted through encrypted video conferencing.

How do I give students their extended time for online quizzes/exams?

  • Students with extended time accommodations should be provided double time.
  • Guidance for extended time in Blackboard is available in the Blackboard Users Group (BUG) and on the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) SSU webpage under Help for Transitioning Courses Online. Instructors using an alternate testing platform should work with their departments or software point-of-contact to apply extended time.

Does online instruction affect attendance?

  • Asynchronous courses may present less of an issue with attendance. Regardless of the delivery format, all students should be active participants in the course. For online courses, this means logging in regularly and progressing toward completion of course work.
  • Courses delivered synchronously may encounter similar needs for accommodation of student movement, restroom breaks, etc. as seated courses. Review individual accommodations provided by the student’s certification letter for specifics.

How do I use Blackboard Collaborate?