Snow days - from welcomed time off to class schedule killing Snow Maggedden!

The upcoming holidays alway remind me that winter weather is coming and it is time to make sure I have things ready for winter storms.  You know the drill ... check the vehicles, make sure your "backup heat" like firewood or propane is ready and get out the snow shovel and "salt" for icy steps.  I like to stock up on any "storm supplies" so I can avoid the crowds when that dreaded, four letter word "Snow" is mentioned in our weather forecast. 

Another part of winter preparation is to check my classes and make sure they are prepared for any weather closures we may have.  If you were here for "SnowMeggedon", you have seen the impact of a prolonged, series of closings that essentially stopped on campus classes for three weeks.  Research I did following that storm revealed that only schools that had been through catastropic storms like Hurricane Katrina really have truly addressed extended closures beyond the typical less than a week variety where faculty simply make the adjustments they need "on the fly".   

My emphasis on the words "on campus" is intentional because online classes that followed best practices could and generally did stay on schedule as long as students had a way to access their classes on Moodle. I even had students asking if they could work ahead on research papers and projects while they were waiting for on campus classes to resume.  Not only was this a good use of the school closure days but Hartman and Dematteis (2008) found in thier study of faculty and student experiences following Hurricane Katrina that being able to continue working on their classes helped students deal with the disruption of their "normal life".  

So how do I get my course ready for Snow Days?  

Three questions you may want to think through that will give a good start are:  

    • How will we communicate if we can't come to campus? 
    • How will I turn in my work?
    • How should I proceed with class work if I can't communicate with my professor? 

There are a number of ways to answer each question and the "right answer" is the one that works for you and your students.  

I plan to share resources to help address these key questions on the FIRST site page where everyone can access them.  I am also open to do a workshop or discussions on this if anyone would be interested.  Feel free to email me if you have questions, comments or want to take part in a session or workshop to help "storm proof" your class schedule.