The first class
Steps that can be taken during Week One of the semester to increase the resilience of your course.
Day One - Checklist
Spend five minutes of the first class of a semester briefing students on how you would conduct classroom instruction in the event of a disruption to campus operations.
Students' emergency contact information
Remind students to update their emergency contact information which is stored centrally on EPR/CS9.
Communicate emergency course procedures
- Briefly explain to students how they would be notified of an event, by whom, how often and the likely nature of instructions to expect. The University provides first instructions according to emergency protocol, with dissemination of information via a central communication system which is able to push emergency messages to all students and staff via mixed media (texts, email, etc). Course coordinators and teaching staff should only respond once directed. Core messages about an emergency event will be generated by the emergency team and communicated as directed. It is important first messages are accurate with no local guessing.
- Confirm the official channels for two-way communication between teachers and students in your course, making the important distinction between channels for course content versus channels for other communications. During and after an emergency event lines of communication often become blurred, so it is worth taking time to establish planned communication channels.
- Highlight the ‘key dates’ in your course: assignment deadlines, major in-class activities and test dates. Let students know how you will be communicating any changes to these dates. Please keep in mind the restrictions on changing assessments (as noted earlier and defined in the Assessment of Student Learning Policy).
- While one option might be to establish a course specific social-media site as a secondary reference point of information and means of communication, it is not encouraged for a range of reasons. There are copyright challenges, issues relating to control of membership and also the generation of multiple media sites runs the risk of creating mixed messages. Furthermore, not all students will be comfortable using social-media sites such as Facebook.
Establish student responsibility and agency
- Consider allowing some time in the first class for students to make some contacts with their peers. Encourage students to exchange contact information with two to three other students in the course. Alternatively, consider facilitating study groups early in the semester, and allow linkages between student peers to establish organically.
- Encourage students to make their own contingency plans, for example making secure back-ups.
- All undergraduate courses should have at least one Class Representative elected by their peers to assist communication between students and staff as per the University’s Class Representation Policy. An option is to appoint student representative(s) as a reference point of information for the course in a continuity situation (should the first primary reference point not be available).
- It is helpful to use regular meetings between Course Co-ordinators and Class Representatives within a subject or faculty (e.g. Staff Student Consultative Committee meetings, FMHS Deans’ forum) to talk through what would happen in an emergency event.
- Most class representatives run a social media forum for students. However, staff use of such forums as a communication channel in emergencies is not encouraged for reasons outlined previously. Membership in these forums is typically not restricted to enrolled students; non-enrolled 'friends' from other cohorts or completely random people may request to join.
Other important resources for students
Let students know they will benefit from the following:
- Having access to a computer that is not in a University of Auckland computer lab, e.g. in a residence room or at home.
- Ensuring their contact details are up to date in the university Student Services Online (SSO) system.
- Getting familiar with their course site in Canvas.
- Familiarisation with the online library resources.
- Attending a University and faculty orientation. For students who missed University Orientation events, visit Orientation online.
- Information on University Health and Counselling Services.
- Information on Student Learning Support.