SSCC Support for Continuity of Instruction

As you’re hopefully aware, the Chancellor has announced that UW-Madison will suspend all in-person instruction on March 23rd due to the threat of COVID-19. We presume most or all classes will switch to online formats, with Canvas being the primary tool for doing so. We recognize that this will require many instructors to use Canvas in ways they’ve never used it before (or in some cases, to use it at all), and that there will be a great need for support and training. L&S Learning Support Services (LSS) and DoIT Academic Technology specialize in instructional support, and normally SSCC would pass Canvas issues to them. But these are not normal times. We expect further information soon about the support DoIT Academic Technology and/or LSS will be able to offer, but want to share our tentative plans with you now.

SSCC currently has limited experience with Canvas and the tools it provides for online instruction, but we are learning how to use them. Our intention is to provide “level 1” support for Canvas, meaning that SSCC members can send questions about it to the SSCC Help Desk and we’ll do our best to answer them, while referring any questions we cannot answer to LSS or DoIT Academic Technology. We’ll also support the required hardware, such as webcams and microphones. We’re not experts in online instruction, so our support will focus on how to do things, not what to do.

We recognize that there are a variety of tools that could be used for some of these purposes (WebEx, Google Hangouts, etc.). We will answer what questions we can about other tools, but will focus our efforts on the tools embedded in Canvas and we recommend using them.

The University has created a new web site,, with a great deal of information about teaching online–far more than SSCC can provide. Please take full advantage of it.

On Tuesday, March 17th, at 1:00 we will present a short in-person demonstration of some of the key Canvas tools for online teaching, especially Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. This will be followed by an opportunity to try out these tools and make sure you can make them work on your laptop, with SSCC staff available to troubleshoot any problems that arise. Feel free to drop by any time between 1:00 and 3:00. Registration via SSCC’s training page is encouraged so we’ll know how many people to expect, but not required. We’d encourage you to think about what you need to do for your course and even get started on it before Tuesday, so that you can come in knowing what problems need to be solved. We will record the demonstration part of the session and make it available online. (We recognize the irony of holding a class just as the University has decided holding classes has too much risk of spreading infection, but we will take special measures to reduce that risk.)

We do not expect this sudden pivot to online instruction will go smoothly, and there will probably be frustrations for instructors and students alike. But we will do our best to help you make it work.

Posted by rdimond.

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