Ongoing course delivery in the wake of a disruption

Options for delivering courses under a range of circumstances.

After an event: Checklist for teachers

Communicating with students

Loss of physical Environment

Canvas virtual classroom tools  

  • Chat - allows students to interact with other students and their teacher in real time.
  • Conversations - a messaging tool used instead of email to communicate with a course, a group, or an individual.
  • Discussions - an integrated system for online class discussions, allowing both instructors and students to start and contribute to as many discussion topics as desired. Discussions can also be created within student groups.
  • Conferences - a way to conduct real-time discussions with your course, broadcast audio and video and share presentation slides and any other online resources.

Other options

While online and electronic communication can serve their purpose, instructors may be able to find other creative ways to communicate with students in a face-to-face environment. For example:

  • Meeting groups of students in locations off campus (e.g. cafes, sports halls, schools)
  • Arranging site visits
  • Meeting outside in the Domain/Albert Park (subject to weather).

Loss of virtual environment (LMS and UoA IT systems)

Manual workarounds

  • Use class time to deliver key messages. It is a good idea to repeat key messages three times, summarise on the whiteboard, ask students to make notes.
  • Ask students in attendance to make a note of anybody missing, and to make a point of passing on key messages to friends and peers.

Alternative communication tools

Use alternative tools which may still be operational outside of the LMS and UoA systems. Examples include:

  • Alternative staff and student email accounts (using Microsoft in the Cloud): All University of Auckland staff and students have email addresses which are linked to their g-mail accounts
  • Teleconferencing for smaller classes
  • Skype allows you to conduct a teleconference call
  • Google Chat is a possible tool useful for one-on-one conversations
  • Create a telephone hotline: Turn your voicemail box into a telephone hotline. Provide information about your courses by updating your greeting.
  • Consider setting up a text network for your class.

Loss of both physical and virtual environments

  • Consider ways of using your smart phone (e.g. as a hotspot to enable internet connection).
  • Find a wifi zone (e.g. a cafe, library, street spot)

Delivering lectures and tutorials

Loss of physical environment

Lecture recordings and tutorials

  • Lecture recordings have a potential benefit of providing a back-up for the future, which can then be uploaded onto the LMS should the physical environment become inaccessible. Even if you do not post the lecture recordings on the LMS for your current students, consider using them as a resource for post-course reviews and as a potential back-up for the future. The lecture theatre recording system is in place across the City, Epsom, Tamaki and Grafton Campuses for most lecture theatres. Recorded lectures are retained at least until the next course delivery, and for not more than two years (unless requested otherwise), so unless the interval between delivering courses is more than two years there should be a backup option for you if you wish to use this resource. Lecture Recording Guidelines and support resources are available on the University website.


  • The University has a site licence for Camtasia Studio for Windows or Mac. Camtasia Studio is a video-based screen capturing software program. It is analogous to using a video camera to record a screen. However, unlike using a video camera, the software is installed on a desktop computer or laptop, so that screen captures are directly recorded to a digital video format with high quality audio. Camtasia can also be customised to capture the entire screen, a specific window, or a user-defined region. Screen capture videos can be recorded with or without voice narration, and can be annotated after recording. While Camtasia was originally designed for creating software tutorials, it has other powerful applications. Support resources and online tutorials are available on the staff intranet. 

Web Conferencing

  • This application in Canvas enables web-based video conferencing and live streaming where students and teachers can collaborate in real time. This type of lecture delivery can be very effective for large classes, but requires advance planning and familiarity with the system to be effective. It may be useful to trial the tool in advance, or to use it as part of your normal teaching practice. More about web conferencing
Loss of virtual environment (loss of LMS and UoA IT aystems)

Social media sites

  • Consider making some lecture materials available on a public social media site (e.g. YouTube). Consider copyright issues carefully. Copyright licences would be breached if licenced content was included and made publically available. One approach is to ensure that access is restricted to students enrolled in a particular course, however, that may be hard to achieve in practice. If you don't wish to post your own lecture(s) you could identify some existing online lectures for your students.


  • Teleconferencing for smaller classes.
Loss of both physical and virtual environments

Low-tech options

  • Consider more traditional teaching options such as whiteboards, blackboards and flip-chart pads.
  • Replace lectures with workshop-style tutorials.

Delivering assessment

Loss of physical environment

Canvas Assessment Tools

  • Peer review approaches can be implemented with a small amount of preparation and can be effective in creating some interaction between student peers in an online environment. The Peer Review Assignment application in Canvas enables students to comment on submitted assignments and learning about their work by assessing others. Peer review assignments can be automatically or manually allocated to students. More about Peer Review Assignments
  • There are a range of user quizzes which can be used to give assessments or to create student surveys. Instructors can administer different kinds of quizzes: practice, graded, graded survey, ungraded survey. Instructors can give feedback on questions. Consideration should be given to the re-design of quizzes for online delivery, including considerations of open-book approaches, group-based collaborative tests, or self-assessment. In a post-disaster environment consider using quizzes as a replacement for exams, (but we would not normally recommend such use of quizzes in business as normal). Increased use of quizzes as a formative assessment could augment what might normally happen in tutorials, for example, and could provide instructors additional data for summative assessment. More about Quizzes


  • Turnitin has optional functionality for peer review approaches, similar in principle to the peer-Review Assignment application in Canvas. Workflow options enable anonymous reviews, and assessment questions can be set to guide peer feedback. More about Turnitin 
  • Custom platforms created by faculties.
Loss of virtual environment


  • Face-to-face options (assuming that exams and tests can proceed).
  • Set assignments which can be undertaken outside the LMS. Consideration should be given to ensure that all students have access to course materials on an equitable basis for assignments and exam revision.
  • Consider delaying the assessment until after the emergency (dependent upon scale and timing).
Loss of both physical and virtual environments


  • Consider whether assessments such as assignments can be realistically completed by students without access to power (e.g. to computers and other equipment). If necessary, follow procedures to amend the content of assignments to make them more suitable for completion by hand (e.g. a critical essay by hand).
  • Delay assessment until after the emergency. This will depend on scale and timing. Human needs by necessity must come first.
  • Set up tests and exams in alternative venues.

Receiving and returning assignments

Loss of physical environment

Canvas tools

  • SpeedGrader enables staff to receive, view and grade student assignment submissions on a single screen. Teachers can  return feedback to students in a variety of forms: as an individual text file, as annotations in a student’s assignment, or as an audio commentary. More about SpeedGrader


  • The online marking function of Turnitin allows staff to gather and annotate student assignments, give feedback using a rubric, and return marked assignments to students electronically. The Turnitin Gradebook is integrated with Canvas Gradebook. More about Turnitin 
Loss of virtual environment


  • Although Turnitin is well known for checking plagiarism, it also includes a tool for online marking with annotation (pdf, Word and PowerPoint) and rubrics. More about Turnitin

Student services stall

  • Submission of paper (hard) copy of assignments to a faculty/departmental student services stall.


  • Maintain records of marks and grades using spreadsheets (password protected) so that these can be uploaded to Canvas later when systems are restored.
Loss of both physical and virtual environments
  • Establish an alternative point for submission of assignments in paper format.

Distributing learning resources

Loss of physical environment

Talis Aspire

  • Provides bookmarking and list building tools which enable you to create digital reading lists for your course. The system ensures integrated digital content, with direct access to electronic resources available from the library including ebooks and digitised content. Other benefits include integrated analytics and management of copyright clearance.
Loss of virtual environment


  • There is likely to be high demand on photocopiers in such an event so consider outsourcing photocopying to an external printer if you can. Have a backup (hard copy) of key resources available in advance.

Course handbooks

  • Some courses currently absorb the cost of producing a comprehensive course guide which is provided free-of-charge to enrolled students. This means students all have ready access to this relatively cheap, low-tech ‘insurance’ backup option if all technology fails. Read about the pedagogical merits of providing hard-copy notes/encouraging annotation by hand.
Loss of both physical and virtual environments

Old-fashioned methods

  • Ask students to take notes (note-taking is a good skill for students to develop).

Holding office hours

Loss of physical environment

When the campus or teaching facilities cannot be accessed, staff will have the option of working at home or remote environment. The following minimum capability will be needed to work effectively off campus:

  • An internet-capable device
  • Internet access
  • VPN access (if you need to access files on the UoA server)
  • Sufficient bandwidth
Loss of virtual environment
  • Establish regular office hours
  • Post your availability on a note on your door
  • Doodle is a useful free tool to posting available times, in which students can self-select options. Find out more about Doodle
Loss of both physical and virtual environments
  • Set up consultation times at an alternative venue.