Providing students with instructions on what to do in an emergency is always a good idea. It’s even more important now as all classes are moving online and many students are relying on technology resources more than they are used to.
You may be thinking, “Oh, I will wait and deal with trouble if it comes up.” It’s nice to be optimistic, but trust me, eventually something will come up. You may not think of it as an actual emergency, but a panicked student may. Add the complication of the sudden reliance on resources students don’t have experience with, and the panicky emails are sure to start filling your inbox.
How to Address Emergencies Before They Happen
- Brainstorm a list of the basic hurdles students are likely to encounter. Consider the issues that have occurred in previous courses you have taught, and reflect on challenges you and those you know have had as they work online. Combine any challenges that will have similar responses (see the example below).
- Outline what students should do in each situation. Include specific details that will walk students through their response. Students coming to this list are anxious. They not catch the nuances of what you say, so be sure that everything is clear and concrete.
- Emphasize trust and calm in your explanations. Let students know that you take their situation seriously. Maintaining a sense of calm will do much to solve the challenge. Panic can make everything worse. If you persuade students to remain calm and trust that you will help them, reasonable solutions to the problems will become easier to accept.
An Example Policy
Here’s a version of the emergency policy that I use with my courses. The policy (like all content on this site) is content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Share-Alike 4.0 International License; thus, you can copy and customize the policy to use with your course.
Photo: Emergency Stop by Daniel Nisbet on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license. Keep Calm and Carry On Poster, from the UK Ministry of Information, used under a CC0 Public Domain license.