Emerson IT Help Desk

Online Class Options for Snow Days

ITG recommends that you decide on a policy for snow days and other canceled classes before the start of the semester and post that on your Syllabus so that students are prepared.

Please feel free to contact ITG with questions or to schedule a training regarding any of the tools mentioned below.

Asynchronous Options (Easiest)

Asynchronous options are the most reliable: you can create them ahead of time and they are less prone to technical issues.

Online Discussion in Canvas

Canvas Discussions are an easy way to shift class online, and they offer many possibilities. Here are just a few scenarios:

  • Have students respond to a reading. Require them to respond to the prompt and to at least two other classmates.
  • Post a reading, and then record a short video where you pose a question. Students can respond in writing or with their own short videos.
  • Break the class into two groups: one poses questions on the readings, the other responds. Then have groups switch the roles for another reading.

Make sure to give your students (and yourself) specific times to prepare and respond to discussions. For example, tell your students to add their responses between 10 AM and 2 PM, add your responses from 2 - 4 PM, and then send them an announcement to view your comments. This will keep expectations clear and help with ambiguity. Times can vary, of course, but be specific and hold you and your students to the schedule!

Screencasts and Video Lectures

If you were planning a lecture for your students, you may want to create a video lecture. Or, you can create a screencast with your presentation slides and accompanying audio. Options:

  • Record a quick video of you talking into your webcam directly in Canvas.
  • Use Panopto to record yourself (on Mac or on PC), record your screen as you lecture, or even include your PowerPoint slides in your video.
  • Presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote also have built in capabilities for recording audio with slides.

Synchronous Option

Web conferencing tools can be challenging to use since many factors can get in the way of a smooth session: internet connection (wired connections are ideal), plugin installations and updates, microphone and camera issues, etc.

If you’d like to use web conferencing, we recommend that you keep things simple and establish guidelines for participating. We would also recommend setting up a practice/training session with ITG ahead of time so that you are comfortable using the platform.


Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing platform that allows you to make video calls and set up meetings quickly and easily from any web browser on any computer or mobile device.

Learn more about Zoom's features and how to get a free Pro account.

Then, use this guide to get started with Zoom.


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