General Tips for Contingency Planning

  • When face to face classes cannot be held, there are options that enable instructors to  hold class either synchronously or asynchronously, depending on the need.
  • Watch a video of a Remote Teaching Workshop held at the U of A!
  • Communicate your plan with students so they know your expectations when regularly scheduled classes are not held.  Many students will assume that if class is not held in the classroom, then  class will not be held at all.
  • Provide details in the syllabus.  Let students know what you will do when classes need to be cancelled.  Are they still responsible for the material?  Will you require a different assignment, will you post a lecture?
  • Send announcements to students via Blackboard.  Did you know that you can also have announcements sent to students as an email?  You create the announcement once on Blackboard and students can read it in two places!
  • Make sure to outline what exactly is changing and how it is changing. Are you changing the format of the exam to an online take home exam?  Are you changing the date of the exam?  Is there an alternate assignment?  Will they still need to work on the group project together? If so, how?
  • Consider whether you want to hold the classes synchronously (everyone participates at the same time, as if in class) or asynchronously (students can do the work or watch the videos as they have time). Suggestions for both options are included below.
  • In these cases and others, it is a good idea to make the material accessible to all students.  Need more help with making your course content accessible for all students?  Ask us about Blackboard Ally!
  • If you need help with any of these ideas, come see us at the TIPS Center or email us at!

  What tools are available to help me plan?

  • Asynchronous – Lecture Recording
  • Finding or Creating Content with Video Tools
  • Synchronous – Web Conferencing
  • Adapting Your Existing Assignments and Activities
  • Watch a video of a Remote Teaching Workshop held at the U of A!

Lecture Recording – Best for Asynchronous Sessions

Echo 360 - Lecture Capture
Echo360 is lecture capture software that allows faculty to record class sessions and share the recordings in Blackboard. Echo360 records the computer screen and your voice.  This option is available in classrooms on campus. A limited number of rooms on campus also offer the ability to video record the speaker as well.  If you have recorded lectures from previous semesters, you can use those videos to share with your current students if you cannot hold classes.  You can request an account and start recording your classes for future planning!  If you have not recorded previous semester courses, then one of the other options below may be more useful for creating new lecture recordings. This option is best for asynchronous meetings.

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Microsoft Voice-over PowerPoint Recordings
If you just want to record your voice and your PowerPoint, one of the easiest ways to record a lecture to post for your students to view in Blackboard is using voice-over PowerPoint. This feature is built right into PowerPoint and allows you to show your screen and record your voice.  One great thing about this is that it records each slide independently before putting it all together into one video.  This allows you to re-record a single slide if you make a mistake instead of having to use video editing software or re-recording a whole video! This is best for asynchronous meetings.

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Kaltura Capture
Kaltura Capture is another great tool for recording lectures.  Unlike voice-over PowerPoint, Kaltura allows you to record your webcam as well.  This allows you to not only have a PowerPoint, but also allows students to see and hear you.  This gives more of an in-person feel to the lecture. We recommend breaking your recordings into several smaller videos, around 5-15 minutes each. This does two things, 1. it prevents you from having to re-record or use video editing software if you make a mistake and 2. breaks the content up into easily digestible smaller videos for students to view. This is best for asynchronous meetings.

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Finding or Creating Content with Video Tools

Create a Kaltura Video Quiz
Kaltura can be used for more than just recording lectures.   One feature of Kaltura is the ability to turn videos into interactive quizzes with questions embedded throughout the video. This enables you to create that reflective pause to see if students understand a concept, idea, or are engaging with the video before it continues.  You can assign points to these and they are linked to the grade center in Blackboard. This is best used for asynchronous meetings.

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Find YouTube Videos for Course Content
One often undervalued resource that instructors have for quick and quality content is YouTube!  We can find YouTube videos on a variety of topics. These videos can be useful primary sources, such as speeches, news stories, and lectures, or they can be succinct videos by reputable sources that explain difficult concepts. In other cases they can provide colorful, fun, or creative examples for our courses.  You can even create a video quiz out of existing YouTube videos to embed in your Blackboard course! These can be used in both synchronous and asynchronous settings.

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Contact the Library for Video Options
The University Libraries has a variety of streaming video services available for faculty.  These include educational and instructional video as well as popular movie titles.  Contact your subject librarian for a consultation or more information on what is available to you. These are best used asychronously. Though you can have students watch a video at home at the same time and chat in real time using Microsoft Teams (discussed below).

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Web Conferencing – Best for Synchronous Sessions

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
Collaborate Ultra is Blackboard’s built-in video conferencing tool.  Participants can see others via webcam, hear and ask questions via voice or instant messaging, and share presentations and ideas using a common whiteboard or by sharing screens. Sessions are recorded and can be posted with other course materials in a Blackboard course or shared outside of Blackboard as a direct link. This is best for synchronous classes, where the faculty member and the students are all meeting at the same time. This method allows for more of an in-class feel with discussions and communication occuring just as it would in class.

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Adapting Your Existing Assignments and Activities

In some cases we cannot hold classes when we have an exam scheduled.  While you could move the exam date to another time, in some cases that has implications for how content may be covered.  There are several options available for you if you want to keep your exam on the same day but cannot hold classes.

  • Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor
    • Respondus LockDown Browser is a secure browser that prevents students from accessing files, the internet, and other applications on their devices.  Essentially, this browser only allows them access to the exam they are taking. This is a tool that integrates seamlessly with Blackboard to enable exams to be created, taken, and graded without having to use several different applications. You will create an exam in Blackboard. Once the exam is created, in Blackboard, you will link Respondus LockDown Browser to the exam. Once you do this, the tool only allows students to access the exam through the secure browser.
    • If you couple Respondus LockDown Browser with Respondus Monitor, it makes the exam setting even more secure.  Respondus Monitor records the students webcam and uses AI to flag situations where it recognizes that students are doing something abnormal, such as looking at notes, their phone, talking to someone else in the room, or leaving the exam. This also lets you know that the student who is taking the exam, is your actual student.
    • This option works best with Blackboard tests that use multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, calculated questions, matching, and short answer questions.
  • Creating a Take-Home Essay Exam
    • If you have an essay exam, we all know how difficult it can be to make sure that the student is actually answering the question based on the course content and not simply googling the answers.  In this case it may be useful to create question types and assignments that make this more difficult. For instance you can tell the students that they can only discuss content from the textbook and the lectures, however, this often does not prevent students from looking up the material. One idea is to have the students write the essay from a particular perspective.  In other words, have the students write as if they were a particular historical figure, belong to a particular occupation or group, or have them write the content as if they were explaining it to their 90-year-old grandparents who do not understand the topic.  In the latter case, do not allow them to use the technical language of your field. Another option is to have them compare concepts or topics from the course that do not seem to have a clear connection.  “We discussed X in class.  Which other topic/book/text/idea that we have discussed do you think it is most similar to/different than?  Defend your answer.  Be sure to include details about the views you are comparing.”


Student Presentations
If you are unable to hold classes or students are unable to attend class on days when student presentations are scheduled, there are several options that you have to alter the assignment.

  • Video Presentations
    • You can have students use Kaltura to record themselves giving a presentation.  These recordings can be submitted to Blackboard as an assignment and viewed by the instructor.
    • You can also have students submit these into Course Blogs or Discussion Boards and allow other students to view them and leave feedback or comments.
    • Alternatively, you could create a Voice Thread video discussion assignment and have students submit their videos in Voice Thread.  Students could then leave video feedback of their peers’ presentations.
    • If you do not want them to leave feedback on the original video and would like to review the feedback before you pass it along, Microsoft Forms is a great tool to use to collect the feedback and then pass along anonymously to the presenter.  Microsoft Forms can be embedded directly into Blackboard.
    • Another tip for grading video presentations is that you can play the videos back at 1.5 or 2x speed to complete grading faster.
    • This is best for asynchronous meetings.
  • Pecha Kucha
    • Pecha Kucha is a particular type of video presentation that forces students to be succinct and clear in their descriptions of their topics.  Pecha Kucha, in its original format, is a presentation that contains 20 slides/images and the student discusses each slide for only 20 seconds. Generally this is in PowerPoint and the slide is set to automatically advance at 20 seconds.  This forces the students to get to the point much faster than they otherwise may which makes the students carefully craft what it is they want to say on each point.
    • This is best for asychronous meetings, though could be used in conjunction with Collaborate Ultra and be done in a “live” synchronous online session.
  • Collaborate Ultra Presentations
    • If you want the feel of live presentations, you could have a synchronous meeting on Collaborate Ultra and have students give presentations to their classmates.  They can share their PowerPoints in Collaborate and give the presenation with their webcam as if they were presenting live.  This does not require the instructor to alter the assignment very much.
    • This is best for synchronous meetings.
There are many ways that instructors can get the same reflection and critical thinking that occurs in small or large group class discussions in an online format. Here are a few examples of tools that can assist with discussion.

  • Blackboard Course Blogs
    • Course blogs, as opposed to individual blogs, are a fun way to get students to interact with one another that mimics the feel of social media.
    • You can have them respond to an initial prompt as you would with discussion boards using either text or video.
    • You can grade the post, but any comments they leave to each other are not gradeable in Blackboard.
    • This is best used asynchronously which allows students to post as they have time.
  • VoiceThread
    • Voicethread is a tool that is made for asynchronous video discussions.
    • The instructor can post a video and students can reply with their own video to the instructor and to other students
    • The initial student videos and the video responses to other students can be graded.
    • This is best used asynchronously which allows students to post as they have time.
  • Microsoft Teams
    • Microsoft Teams is a messaging or chat tool that allows students and the instructor to chat in real time.
    • Instructors can pose questions and students can have a real time, synchronous conversation!
    • This is not integrated in the Blackboard grade center, but you can monitor which students respond since it is connected to their university email and login.
Clicker Activities
If you use student response systems, or clickers, in class for participation points you have several options to create quizzes or conduct polls of the students outside of class.

  • Kaltura Quizzes
    • You can have students watch videos that have embedded quiz questions to check for comprehension and increase critical thinking. This is best with asynchronous meetings.
  • Mobile Version of Turning Technologies
    • Instead of using the physical clicker in the classroom, you can have students answer the questions on their mobile devices at home.  This allows you to ask the same questions you would in class. This is a nice option for synchronous meetings.
  • Polling in Collaborate Ultra
    • If you are holding a synchronous class on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, there is a built in polling feature.  When you are in collaborate, in the main menu on the right, there is the option to “Share Content.”  From that screen there is a “polling” option. This is best in synchronous meetings.
  • Blackboard Quiz
    • You can import all of your clicker questions directly into Blackboard! You can make these questions worth points, not worth points, or worth bonus points.  There are many types of questions that you can choose in Blackboard.  This is best in asynchronous meetings.
  • Microsoft Forms
    • If you want quick feedback from students you can create quizzes, polls, and feedback forms in Microsoft Forms and embed it directly into Blackboard. This works best with asynchronous meetings.
Collaborative Group Work
While it may seem difficult to have students participate in collaborative group work in an online setting, there are actually several options available to students that allow them to synchronously work together.

  • Office 365 Online
    • Faculty, Students, and Staff have access to Office 365 for free through the U of A. You can have students go to and use Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and an number of other apps to collaborate in real time with eachother. They can create a document with the uark account and share it with their team members.  This allows them to edit and share a single document at the same time, all contributing!
  • Collaborate Ultra Groups
    • If you are meeting synchronously in Collaborate Ultra, you can put students into their own breakout groups to work together online. You can also monitor the groups and bring them back to the main session after allowing them to discuss in their groups. This provides a more in-class feel to the collaboration.
    • This works best synchronously, but you can also allow students to join their own collaborate sessions with each other when you and other classmates are not available.
  • Microsoft Teams
    • Another tool that the U of A has free of charge for students in Microsoft Teams.  This is a messaging and chat tool that allows students to message each other in real time.  You are also able to make calls through the app without giving out your actual number.
    • This can be used for group members to discuss projects together.  This can also be used in conjunction with a shared document.  Students can discuss what they want to add to the document before actually making the changes.