From Donnie Sendelbach, Director of Instructional and Learning Services
Flu season is upon us and it is important to think ahead about what you might need to do in the event of absence that impacts your instruction — whether it is the absence of a student, multiple students, and/or even you, the professor!
FITS has developed a set of Absence Preparedness resources to help faculty members to think through preparations prior to and during a major absence situation. These include a series of recommended techniques you can use to keep a class going as well as links to various related University policies and resources.
Check out the site for the full details. But in the meantime, here is a quick checklist to get you started toward making sure that you’re ready:
- As much as you can, plan ahead for absences. Having a strategy in place to communicate with students how to navigate course requirements and responsibilities if they are sick will pay dividends for your students’ learning if a wave of absences occurs. When classes begin after Fall Break, you may find that this is an optimum time to review current course information and provide students with directions if they are absent for an extended period of time.
- Try out new methods or technologies in advance. Even for the best of us, trying to learn new software during a flu epidemic or getting a student to learn new software while she or he is out sick may not yield desired results. The key is planning ahead.
- Take small steps when implementing new techniques. While you might currently consider learning one new technology within your current comfort level, attempting to learn a completely new technology with a large learning curve in a short time also will not yield desired results. FITS advises taking small steps over time when learning new technologies. In the event of major absences, rethinking the technologies you already know may be the best strategy for you.
- Apply technology to serve a pedagogical purpose, not simply for the sake of using technology. The uses of technology described on the site are good practices to have in place for absences in general: student athletes on the road, you at an out-of-town conference, a student with a family emergency, etc. They are just good pedagogical practices.
- Note the limitations of your obligation to help students who have been sick. In some instances, the student might be better advised to take an incomplete or drop a class. Please consult policies on class attendance and absences and incomplete grades from the Student Handbook.
If you have any questions,
Contact Donnie Sendelbach, Director of Instructional and Learning Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) or any FITS member for assistance in thinking through strategies for your classes.
Faculty Instructional Technology Support (FITS) (www.depauw.edu/univ/fits)
provides consulting & technical support for faculty who wish to explore & develop uses of instructional technology in their teaching.