15th annual

Instructional Continuity Guidelines

Every UC Riverside instructor should develop a preparedness plan to ensure the continuity of instruction in case of disruptions and/or unexpected conditions that affect the mode and/or delivery of teaching. In most cases, moving all components of an entire course online is not needed. Instead, the event may require using the learning management system for a few days or communicating via email or web conferencing to continue the class dialogue.

This guide is intended to help instructors craft such plans and provides pedagogical strategies and approaches they can use to maintain the delivery of effective instruction. 


  • Starting Points
    1. Identify what is MOST important for students to learn to successfully complete your course and which assessments are key measures of that learning. At first, it is recommended to only make minimal adjustments. If the disruption lasts longer, more extensive interventions may be required and further campus guidance will be provided.
    2. Clear communication at all levels is critical during a disruption. You may even want to communicate your plans before the disruption occurs (if possible). Expect to inform your students of the plan for the course moving forward as well as to communicate with your teaching team to troubleshoot any further issues that may arise.
  • Communicating is Essential

    Let students know, in every format possible (e.g. in person, through email, via Canvas Announcement) and as soon as possible, how they’ll be updated, in what ways they can expect to be impacted, and how class meetings will occur (e.g. via Zoom, viewing asynchronous materials, etc.) in the case of a campus disruption.

  • Canvas features to enable communication
    • Create Announcements to reach all of the students in your course at once.
    • Use the Canvas Inbox to communicate with a course, or portions of it.
    • Enable the Chat feature in your courses for especially quick communication.

    Note: During a period of disruption, it will be especially important for you to be aware of how Canvas notifications work. If you have not already done this, encourage your students to have their notifications on, especially for Announcements and Conversations as the situation develops. You might also consider curating your own notifications

    Further Strategies:

    • If TAs are not available, let students know how to communicate with you and remind them that you will be the primary point of communication.
    • Use familiar tools to facilitate communication to students and for student to student collaboration.
    • Plan ahead so that you can organize communication (especially emails) efficiently. For example, ask students to use standardized subject lines such as: 
      • COURSE NAME/NUMBER - QUESTION ABOUT <TOPIC, SOMETHING HAPPENING IN CLASS, ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUE>. If you do this, provide students with categories for the subject lines.
  • Pivoting Your Mode of Teaching from Face-to-Face to Emergency Remote

    Depending on the type of disruption, it may be helpful for you to temporarily pivot your instruction to emergency remote learning.

    • UCR instructors still have enhanced licensing for Zoom. If you haven’t yet used Zoom or need a refresher, visit their Getting Started Guide.
    •  If you taught this course already between 2020-2022 as an emergency remote course, check a previous version of this course to determine if there is a video or lesson plan you can re-use during this latest disruption.

    Encourage students to ask you questions in an online discussion forum or help each other with homework in a Canvas chat (You may need to redirect students who email with questions to the forum or chat). 

    • To improve efficiency, consider creating forums or chat threads for different categories of questions (e.g. administrative, concepts from the week, grading questions).
    • Canvas Discussion Forums
    • Consider Zoom-based group office hours so that multiple students can attend without worrying about space. 
    • If you host multiple office hours, consider creating themes for some of the hours (e.g. how to organize a paper, solve difficult problems for exams, review a complex topic). 
    • If you expect large groups, consider recording the office hour session and sharing it with all students.
  • Designing Your Course for Accessibility
    • Foster predictability: communicate your plans for the course each week and try to stick to them. 
    • If part of students’ grades depends on meetings that you don’t lead, decide how any remaining portion of the grade tied to those meetings will be earned and communicate that to students.
    • Post lecture notes/recordings so that students can review content independently or use them  to complete assignments.
    • If grading will be delayed, encourage your students to keep copies of their submitted work (where possible), and post sample solutions or annotated examples of exemplary work, along with a short video of “common successes and pitfalls” that you can glean from quickly scanning students’ assignments.
    • Further resources for keeping courses accessible: 
  • Considering Alternatives for your Lab Sessions
    • Provide remote activities where possible.
    • If needed, seed an experiment for your students to continue in future lab periods or provide artificial data, or data from prior in-person activities, for them to analyze in place of performing the work on their own.
    • For courses with small numbers of sections, consider asking your colleagues whether they would be willing to share the responsibility of facilitating them with you.

    Many virtual labs - ChemCollective (Chemistry), MERLOT (Science), PhET (simulation), and LabXchange (molecular biology), to name a few - are available that can substitute for the physical performance of an experiment (here is a list of additional online labs, simulations, and resources). Online museum collections (Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Harvard Digital Collections) can be examined in lieu of interaction with physical artifacts. How well these virtual experiences model professional practice will vary, depending on your discipline and course, but you may find an option that works well for you.

  • Using Online Discussion Boards
    • Create a structured online discussion (by section groups, if appropriate). Consider creating an online space for students to interact asynchronously. 
    • Create worksheets or collaborative activities for your students to work through, either synchronously or asynchronously.
    • Encourage students to help each other with homework, complete group projects, and ask administrative questions. 
    • Annotate a reading together, asynchronously, by asking (section groups of) students to comment on it in Google Docs (check sharing permissions) or by using an online annotation tool.
    • Create a self-grading online quiz with multiple attempts for student mastery, and provide information about where students can find relevant information

    Explore more options for engaging students with low and high stakes assessments.

  • Holding Review Sessions
    • Consider different formats for hosting “review sessions” that provide all students with access: create an FAQ, video response, live review session on Zoom and record/share.
    • Create a way for students to submit questions about exams and organize questions/responses thematically using tools that are familiar to you and/or your students. 
      • Discussion Forum in Canvas (encourage upvoting)
      • Collaborative Google Doc
      • Surveys in Canvas (ungraded quizzes), Poll Everywhere or a Google Form
      • Encourage students to use or choose from common categories of questions (“big ideas” that are necessary for successfully completing the course) so that you can sort questions into groups as you put together responses.
    • Avoid hosting review sessions that will not be accessible to all students (e.g. review sessions during any time other than the scheduled class times, unless recorded and shared).
  • Managing Assessments
    • Identify what is essential for assessments and what formats of assessments will be reasonable to grade (multiple-choice or short-answer exams, etc.).
    • If you are changing the format of an exam from short answer to multiple choice, let students know and provide them with sample questions.
    • If you use something like a final paper in a course, consider adapting the assignment so that the grading workload is more manageable, such as having students write the outline of the final. paper, indicating what evidence or data from the course they will use and how it is connected to the paper’s thesis or argument. If you choose to do so, provide students with a strong example of this approach, and with the rubric you will use to grade their work.
    • Give students feedback about their work, whether the feedback is automated in an online quiz, light-touch feedback to groups of students, or to the whole class in a short video that highlights common successes and challenges of student work.
    •  Use Rubrics and ask students to self-evaluate their submitted work using the rubrics.
    • Consider having students complete work in teams instead of individually.

    Video on Creating Groups in Canvas

    Provide students with opportunities for self and peer-assessment.

    To aid grading, utilize online quizzes in Canvas that can auto-grade or leverage tools such as Gradescope.

    Yuja Proctoring for Canvas Quizzes

    Provide these instructions for starting a proctoring session to your students.

     How to use SpeedGrader and Using the Canvas Gradebook

  • Time-saving Tips

    Sharing Canvas Content with Another Instructor

    Copying Content between Your Courses

    Canvas Calendar features

  • Frequently Asked Questions: UAW strike planning

     Which workers may strike? Workers represented by the four bargaining units comprised of academic appointees represented by the United Auto Workers union (“UAW”): (1) Academic Student Employees (TAs/Readers/Tutors); (2) Postdoctoral Scholars; (3) Academic Researchers (Specialists/Project Scientists/Professional Researchers/Coordinators of Public Programs), and (4) Graduate Student Researchers (including some on training grants and external fellowships). 

    Can I ask any of these workers about their intention to strike? No. Do not discuss the potential strike action or solicit any individual worker’s intention. This can be perceived as pressuring them and may potentially violate their employee rights. Assume that all workers will strike. 

    What impacts are anticipated? At least a brief, and possibly extended, period where these workers will not fulfill their job duties. This includes but is not limited to: teaching lectures, labs, and discussion sections; grading submitted work and entering/maintaining grades; tutoring; supplemental instruction; research; outreach; program administration; and other duties assigned to these workers. 

    What should an instructor of record do at this time? If you currently supervise one or more ASEs (TAs/Readers/Tutors) in an instructional setting, please plan ahead for the possibility of a strike. Students will look to you to be the authority on how the course will proceed. The specific actions you take will depend on circumstance, but may include the following: 

    • Notify your students of the possibility of a strike, how they could be impacted, and steps you will take in the event of a strike. Classes should not be cancelled because of the strike. 

    • Maintain clear and frequent communication with your students. Remind them that you will be the main point of contact during the strike, and ensure they know how to reach you. 

    • If you anticipate an increase in emails, ask students to use a common subject line (such as the course prefix and number) and set up a rule to filter your inbox. Alternatively, set up discussion forums / chats with different topics and ask them to submit questions there for your review. 

    • Identify the most important aspects of the course and focus on maintaining their continuity. Among these priorities should be maintaining each student’s access to the course and materials. 

    • Identify any aspects of the course that may be postponed, abbreviated, or omitted, and revise your lesson planning and grading rubric accordingly. Consider engaging your students in making these revisions, and be transparent and reasonable with your new expectations. 

    • Examine the work currently being done by each ASE to understand its stage, how it might be disrupted, and the specific steps you can take to mitigate disruption if it happens. 

    • Ensure you have access to ASE lesson plans, student grades, graded materials, and submitted work that has not yet been graded. 

    • If grading will be delayed, ask students to maintain copies of submitted work and post timely sample solutions for them to review. 

    • Consider temporarily shifting to remote instruction if it helps you manage a larger workload or reach students for whom instruction has become more difficult to access (such as by recording and posting lectures/discussions; or holding online office hours to accommodate more people). 

    • Within the limits of the ASE appointment letters, consider reassigning work among ASEs if some choose to work during the strike while others do not. 

    What about graduate courses? Graduate classes also should not be cancelled because of the strike. Graduate students are students regardless of their employment status with the university, and may continue to participate in university activities during the strike. Graduate classes and the evaluation of graduate student work for grades and credit should continue as normal. 

    What should other supervisors of these workers (including PIs) do at this time? Refer to the list above for suggestions that apply outside of instructional settings. Consider the possibility that progress on research projects may be delayed, and notify anyone who may be affected (e.g., funding agencies anticipating reports). 

    What should I do to ensure that students have access to portions of a course to which TAs contribute, such as sections? The key principle here is that all students should have the same access to course materials. Faculty can, for instance, record materials that might be covered in section and share this recording via the LMS. Faculty can also create focused synchronous online discussions for students focusing on particular questions, problems, or areas of exam preparation.

    If some TAs want to work and others do not, can I reallocate work to the available TAs? Potentially, within limits. TA duties are outlined in the work agreements completed and signed by departments/faculty and TAs at the beginning of the quarter. Duties must fall within the established work agreements. Faculty must also be cognizant of the number of hours of the TA appointment and cannot assign work that would exceed the appointment hours. Faculty must also honor TAs’ right to strike and cannot be perceived as exerting pressure on TAs. 

  • Canvas Video Guides