March 11, 2020

Managing and Conducting a Class During a Campus Closure: Academic Continuity

If an emergency situation causes a campus closure, UNTHSC offers a variety of tools and resources to move your teaching online.  On this page, you will see the tools we have and strategies we recommend.  Please scroll down to learn more. For a comprehensive resource list of self-help guides visit our technology inventory page.

Essential Practices

  • The single most important thing you can do during an emergency closure is to communicate your plan with your students. What should they expect? What will you be doing? If there are planned assignments, exams, quizzes, etc, how will they proceed? What are your overall instructions for them?
  • Canvas is our campus’s Learning Management System, and it is the online hub for sharing information with your students about your classes. Review Canvas’s Instructor Guide to learn more about its features or sign up for one of the CIL’s Canvas training opportunities below.
  • Maintain “presence” with your students – make sure they still see you and hear from you regularly (daily or at least more often than you would communicate face to face), despite the distance. Review this article, Online Course Design: Thinking outside the classic paradigms by Steven Mintz about Instructor Online Presence.
  • Keep a copy of teaching materials either in Canvas or in cloud-based storage so that access is available from off-campus locations.

Class Announcements and Communication: Set up a Discussion Board

  • Discussions provide a forum for students to respond to prompts and discuss course content. Discussion boards can also be set up for question and answer forums where students can post questions and instructors (and peers) can offer answers. Instructors have the option to sort students into groups, set due dates, and assign graded discussions. For more information see the Canvas guide on setting up a Discussion.
  • Announcements provide a way to email and post an announcement in Canvas to your class of students. Link to Canvas guide on setting up Announcements.

Options for Class Meetings

What can you do to still have instructional time with your students without the ability to actually come to class? Here are a few options:

Asynchronous options (students participate at their own pace)

Synchronous options (students participate with you live/simultaneously)

  • Use Zoom to videoconference with your students
    • Best for large classes (>50 participants)
    • Best when long-term recording is needed
  • Use Canvas Conferences to videoconference with your students. Review the Canvas guides to using Canvas Conferences.
    • Best for small classes (<50 participants)
    • Best for hosting scheduled “office hours” for students to access instructors for help
    • Recordings are automatically deleted after two weeks
    • Students can use this tool to conference with each other for group meetings or group assignments.

 Managing Assignments and Exams

  • Review the Canvas guides for Assignments and Quizzes
  • Respondus LockDown Browser & Monitor can provide a secure online testing environment for quizzes and exams hosted in Canvas. To get started with Respondus, contact the CIL at to have it added to your course.
  • Consider alternate assignments such as Voicethread, Discussions, or Mindomo (access all of these through Canvas)
  • Learn how to grade using Speedgrader in Canvas

What about hands-on labs or skills training?

  • Consider whether there is an alternative to the training if so, do it.
  • Consider completing more didactic work than was scheduled during the online-only portion of the course to make extra time for hands-on skills when everyone returns to campus.

Training Available for You: 2020 Class & Business Contingency Plan Training

This training requires the use of a laptop computer. If you need a laptop, please check one out from the Gibson Lewis Library front desk.

Training sessions will cover these skills

  • Sending requests to the CIL to post past video/audio recordings to current courses
  • Recording presentations using PowerPoint & Zoom
  • Logging into Zoom, scheduling meetings, and launching conferences to host live synchronous online meetings for class and business
  • Scheduling, launching and conducting Canvas Conferences for course meetings

Training session dates and times

Register for one of the following 2020 Class & Business Contingency Plan Training sessions below.
Lunch will be provided to faculty and staff who 1) register and 2) confirm their attendance via an outlook invitation.


  • Friday – March 13 – 12-1:30 pm – in LIB-400
  • Monday – March 16 – 12-1:30 pm – in LIB-400 MET 124 
  • Tuesday – March 17 – 12-1:30 pm – in MET 109-111 MET 124
  • Wednesday – March 18 – 3:00 – 4:30 pm – in LIB-400 MET 124 *CANCELLED*
  • Thursday – March 19 – 11:30-1:00 pm – in LIB-400 MET 124 *CANCELLED*
  • Friday – March 20 – 12-1:30 pm – in LIB-400 MET 124 *CANCELLED*
  • Thursday – March 26 – 11:30-1:00 pm – in LIB-400 MET 124 *CANCELLED*
  • Monday – March 30 – 11:30-1:00 pm – in LIB-400 MET 124 *CANCELLED*

Couldn’t Make It To a Live Session? Watch Our Recorded Session By Clicking the Icon Link Below

Voicethread Online Workshop

  • Thursday, March 19
    12:30 pm Central Time
    Join from your own computer or mobile device!

    • To register and for more information click the Voicethread logo below for more information about the online workshop.

Student Resources

Canvas Help

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