Emergencies related to a severe weather crisis or a health crisis can result in missed class time for students, and instructors. Learning Innovation recommends the following  to keep a class going during emergencies.

Plan ahead

  • Have a communication strategy. Tell your students where to locate course information.
  • Plan how you will stay in touch with your TAs and other instructional staff.
  • Post your syllabus online and update it with course changes as needed.
  • Have a clearly-stated course policy regarding make-ups and absences.
  • Consider how you could adapt assignments in case of an extended emergency.

When you or your students can’t attend, here are suggestions to keep the class going:


  • Post documents and assignments online. An option is to use Sakai or WordPress.
  • Narrate a slide show from home using Quicktime (Mac) or narrating with powerpoint.
  • Record the class lecture for students to view later. Duke offers lecture capture for classes via Duke Capture in several teaching spaces and via mobile recording options.


Distribute, collect and grade assignments

  • Post assignment instructions and grades on the course website.
  • Use the Sakai Assignments tool to collect assignments electronically.
  • Use online tools to comment, grade and return assignments.
  • Use tools like VoiceThread to comment orally on student work. Learn more about VoiceThread here.
  • Offer online quizzes, questionnaires or tests where appropriate. (See Sakai Tests & Quizzes)

Manage student meetings and group work

Learn more about Learning Innovation’s faculty opportunities here. When there is time to plan ahead, contact us to set up a time to discuss these options for your course. OIT and Trinity Technology Services also offer assistance to instructors seeking ways to accommodate for course disruptions due to class cancellations.