“Snowmageddon,” the monster snowstorm that pummeled the East coast of the United States in 2010, caused many universities to close their doors for several days, including James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Va.—but it didn’t interrupt instruction at the school.
Fortunately, JMU had plans in place to deal with disasters, both weather- and illness-related. Two of JMU’s academic centers had developed a resource website for faculty who faced high class absences from a flu epidemic.
“For the flu and weather-proofing site, we created a ‘faculty-friendly’ framework that mirrors the way instructors think about their courses: syllabus, attendance, participation, lecture, group work, assessment, et cetera,” said Karen Santos, executive director of the university’s Center for Faculty Innovation.
Santos said university officials worked with faculty members to make the parameters as user-friendly as possible.
“For each component, we posed questions from a faculty perspective and developed a range of solutions to provide guidance to course instructors,” said Santos. “Technology solutions were embedded as relevant to instructional goals. For each solution, we provided information, directions, and links in a ‘one-stop shopping’ format.”
JMU also teamed with TechSmith and used its Camtasia Relay software, which provides screen recording and sharing capabilities to make video lectures available to students online. In the end, “Snowmageddon” shut down the university for three days, but Camtasia Relay helped keep students on task—and kept learning uninterrupted.
(Next page: Three benefits to the university’s efforts)