Online Backup

As colleges in the Gulf Coast area struggle to recover from flooding (some campuses remain closed), faculty who teach classes online or with a hybrid approach may be at a distinct advantage. This assumes, of course, that students and teachers can access computers and the internet—a tough assumption at some locations.

Matt Reed discusses the issue of “Kinda/Sorta Online” classes, in Inside Higher Ed. He is a community college dean in New Jersey, where snow days are common, but he refers to the hurricanes devastating much of the country in the same context. Please have a look.

According to various websites, many affected Texas colleges are switching to a hybrid format out of necessity. You can see such an announcement here at Lone Star College, where the devastation is particularly severe at some of its campuses. Information on LSC is found at the conclusion of this post.

As Dr. Reed points out, even if a face-to-face pedagogy works best for your classes, it might be advantageous to have an online backup when weather, illness, or other unforeseen circumstances arise precluding classroom instruction. It all starts with the ability to communicate with your students online.

Students are routinely given a college email account, but they often don’t check their in-box with the same devotion as they do with social media platforms. Consequently, class hybridization should begin early in the semester to get students trained in the format. That way when bad things happen, they will know what to do.

This is easier said than done if you are already confronted with a shortage of clean and dry space.

From the Lone Star College announcement:

LSC-Kingwood suffered extensive damages to six of our nine buildings due to flooding caused by the San Jacinto River which contained sewage from the nearby flooded water treatment plant. While we have specialists sanitizing the buildings, we will not be able to use these buildings for most of the semester. We are asking that you be flexible and give us another week to do the following:

  • Convert most 16-week classes that were to start the week of August 28 to 12 week classes that will start the week of September 25.
  • Figure out which class sections need to be in a face-to-face format or a hybrid format (combination of online and face-to-face class sessions)
  • Offer most face-to-face classes and hybrid ones at one of four locations. These will be in the two non-flooded buildings on the main college campus (Student Conference Center and the Music Instructional Building), the Atascocita Center, the EMCID building in New Caney and a leased building located between the college campus and EMCID. We also have some classes being offered at other sites, which will be communicated to those students.
  • Convert all other classes that do not need to meet face-to-face or hybrid to an online class.
  • Class schedule changes for courses offered at other colleges have to be done by September 9.