Preparing for Academic Continuity"If you can't reach them, you can't teach them." (FDU Academic Continuity Plan)
Under any circumstances, establishing and maintaining viable communication links with students is an absolute necessity for quality teaching and learning. This fact becomes even more critical during an emergency or other occurrence that disrupts teaching schedules and that has the potential to disrupt communication. Further, providing ongoing, continuing communication with students during an emergency serves to reassure them concerning their academic progress. Therefore, the most critical component of an academic continuity plan begins at the course level with the development of a communication plan that is known and understood by students and that can ensure continuity of teaching and learning.

1.1 Communication With Students

  1. Student contact information should be updated regularly and should be accessible in multiple locations.
  2. You and your students should have an RU e-mail account, and one other non-RU account.
  3. Keep all student contact information in both electronic and paper formats.
  4. Keep paper copies of student contact information at home, in your office or department, and with your Department Chair or School Director.
  5. Inform your students that if their contact information (including secondary e-mail account) changes at any time during the semester, they must let you know immediately.
  6. Maintain the accuracy of student contact information ... always.
  7. Repeat these steps at the beginning of every semester.

1.2 E-Mail Accounts

Students and faculty need to develop the habit of regularly checking RU e-mail. All official business of the University that is distributed electronically utilizes the RU account information of faculty, students, and staff. Students who are enrolled in distributed education classes in particular need to be encouraged to do this, because many of them may utilize another e-mail account as their "primary" account and neglect checking the RU account. Thus, it is possible, even in non-emergency situations, that students can miss critical communications. Further, it may not be possible to open an account during an emergency, so anyone who does not have an account should open one immediately.

Teaching students at a distance requires that contact by means of electronic mail is not hampered.The RU Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) coordinated by the Office of Emergency Managementworks closely with the Information Technology Resources Division to ensure, to the extent possible, that all campus computer systems are accessible during an emergency. However, emergencies are unpredictable, and it is possible that connecting to campus systems in some types of emergencies may be impossible.Therefore, faculty and students are encouraged to open and maintain a second, non-RU e-mail account.
  • To create an RU e-mail account, visit the MYRU Portal for instructions.
  • Faculty, students, and staff should regularly check "junk" or "spam" folders on all accounts, to ensure that important e-mail is not ending up there. E-mail sent from free services often gets funneled into the "junk" folders
  • Holders of RU accounts will not be able to receive mail if they have insufficient storage space. Therefore, deleted items should be permanently deleted to ensure that this unwanted correspondence does not use up storage space.
For further information related to developing and maintaining an e-mail account, contact the Division of Information Technology.

1.3. Student Information

While student contact information is stored in the University's student information system, personal data is not always available, and student contact information may not be current. Therefore, as added security, you should collect and maintain current contact information from all of your students.The Student Questionnaire linked below asks students for several ways to contact them in an emergency. If your students do not feel comfortable supplying certain information, reassure them that you will only use this information during an emergency.

Complete each of the following steps:
  1. Ask your students to complete and return to you the Student Contact Information Questionnaire.
  2. Give your students a deadline for returning the questionnaire.
  3. Monitor returns of the questionnaire and remind students who have not completed the form to do so and return it to you.

1.4. Faculty Information

Just as you need to contact your students, they will need to be able to contact you. You should let your students know how they can best contact you during an emergency.
A recommended procedure for accomplishing this is as follows:
  1. Complete the Faculty Contact Information Questionnaire and distribute this to your students.
  2. Some instructors may prefer not to share all contact information with students. Share as many details as you can while maintaining your privacy.
  3. Make sure that your students understand that your contact information is for use only during an emergency that closes the campus. Otherwise they should always use the contact method specified in your syllabus.
  4. Be aware that students may try to contact you via one of your emergency contact methods, even when the University is not closed. You should check your non-RU email account often to check if students have tried to contact you at that address.
  5. Provide a copy of the questionnaire to your chair/director.
If you have a non-RU e-mail account but want to keep it private, set up an additional free account just for emergency use. Some sources include the following:

1.5. Exchanging Information

Even in non-emergency situations, it is a good idea for students to exchange contact information in case they are absent and need to know about a missed assignment, or in order to ask each other for assistance.the "mail" function in Blackboard provides opportunities for students to contact each other and the course instructor, However, in the event of a major emergency that could close access to Blackboard, you should also be prepared to have a resource for students to stay in touch with each other. Distributing student RU email addresses to the entire class is permissible, but for any additional contact information to be disseminated, permission must be given by each student. The Student Contact Information Questionnaire asks the students to provide permission to share emergency contact information.
Please complete the following steps:
  1. Tell your students that you would like to create a class directory containing contact information.
  2. Explain to your students that the list will be used in case there is an emergency so that they can contact their fellow classmates.
  3. Explain that the contact information may also be used when they need to contact classmates for other reasons during the semester.
  4. You may include RU email addresses in your directory even if students do not provide permission to release their contact information.
  5. For students who sign the permission form, include all phone numbers and addresses provided.
  6. Distribute the directory together with your faculty contact information to all students. Remind them to keep copies at any location where they might be during an emergency.
  7. Keep a copy in your on-campus office, and keep a copy at home.
  8. Give your chair/director a copy of the contact list for each of your classes.

1.6. Minimum Systems Requirements for Synchronous Online Course Delivery

Radford University maintains licenses for instructional technologies that provide live "desktop-to-desktop" instruction using Adobe Connect. This makes it possible for students to attend and participate in live lectures from home or any other location removed from the RU campus with high speed Internet connectivity. In order to maximize the teaching and learning experiences using this technology, faculty and students should have internet and computer access to a system that meets the following basic requirements:
  • Headphones with built-in microphone (required for audio participation where other participants can hear you).
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or later
  • Adobe Connect Flash Player
  • Ability to access Adobe Connect. (At some locations, the firewall or network administrator may need to open the necessary ports to provide access to this service.)
  • A telephone or cell phone nearby your computer in case you need to contact the instructor or technical support staff at RU

1.7. Computer Systems Check-up

Faculty, staff, and students should regularly check their personal (home) computers to be certain that communications can be maintained effectively. These check-ups should include:
  • Checking to be certain the availability of a high speed (DSL) internet connection from place of residence. There are some free online programs that will test your connection speed if you cannot obtain it from your internet service provider (ISP), including
  • Use a program such as Secunia to scan all installed software regularly to ensure that current security patches are installed.
  • Confirm that home computers can operate WebCt/Blackboard and Adobe Connect efficiently

1.8. Security Systems

‚Äč Computers used by faculty, staff and students should have updated security software installed. Radford University provides some security software free to faculty and students for downloadto home computers. Most important is to be certain that home computers have the VPN Client installed in order for users to have access to servers and other university backup and support systems. Students and faculty can download the VPN Client for home use(on non-university machines) here at no cost through the Division of Information Technology