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Cancelled Class Continuity

Got the flu? Traveling to a conference but can’t afford to lose three hours of instructional time? Snow piling up outside?

No problem! Your friends at Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) have some helpful tips on leveraging some simple technologies to keep your class on schedule.

As of Fall 2015, all courses have an associated Canvas LMS site. So even if you have no plans to use it regularly, it can help you out tremendously in the event of class cancellations, simply by providing a secure, easily-accessible place for your students to access materials.

Create Your Material

  • Text documents, Powerpoints, PDFs, etc.
  • Multimedia – webcam videos, podcasts, screencasts, etc.
  • Discussion forum prompts

Post Your Material

  • Post Materials to Canvas
  • Upload Videos to Canvas

Communicate With Your Students

Use Canvas to send class-wide email notification of how to access Canvas, what material is there, and where to find it inside the site (Announcements, Files, etc.).

Creating Your Materials

In some cases, posting text-based documents or PowerPoint presentations may suffice to give students some material to cover on their own time. However, you may want to record a narration for your materials to simulate the lecture you would have delivered.

In this event, first consider your comfort level with technologies. Select a technology that you have used before. Free screen recording softwares (e.g. Jing, Screencast-o-matic) and even real-time web conferencing tools with recording capability (e.g. Zoom) can be used to capture a quick lecture video in a pinch on your own time, on your own device!

Recording Software Options
(Macintosh) QuickTime

If you are running Snow Leopard or higher on your Mac, you can use the free QuickTime application (10.2 or higher) that comes with the operating system.

(Windows) Screencast-o-matic

Pros: Screencast-o-matic is free and runs on Windows or Mac. It is easy to use (promotes itself as being “one-click”) and can publish to, Youtube, or a video file.

Cons: The free version has a 15-minute maximum length.

Download the recorder here:

View a very short demo here:

(Windows/Mac) Camtasia

Camtasia is another easy to use screen recorder; however, it is not free. It is available on the computers at the InnovationSpace, as well as in the InnovationSpace audio bays. It can also be purchased at a reduced price from Virginia Tech’s Software Distribution. For more information, visit the IT Procurement and Licensing Solutions Camtasia page.


Zoom is a live webcasting tool that has recording capabilities. Visit our Zoom on Personal Computers and Mobile Devices guide for more information.

To sign in to Zoom, visit

Campus Studios

The InnovationSpace has two sound-deadened audio bays set up with multimedia recording equipment that can be used to record content for lectures. Both rooms feature a high-quality microphone for use in recording narration and voice-overs with software including Audacity, Garageband, and Adobe Audition. The audio bays also have software that can be used to combine your audio recordings with visual media such as Camtasia, Quicktime Pro, Adobe Connect, and Captivate.

To reserve time in the audio bays, email the InnovationSpace.

Media Design Studio

The Media Design Studio is a space for members of the Virginia Tech campus community to create or co-create various types of media, including video, audio, and other multimedia. Use our variety of hardware, software, and spaces to create media on your own or with help from our staff.

For more information, check out their website at:

Discussion Forums

To promote active learning in an asynchronous environment, you may wish to use the Discussion Forums in Canvas to engage students and invite their participation. Simply post a prompt(s) and invite the students to lend their input, and/or respectfully respond to other student’s posts. Using Discussion Forums, combined with clear instructions (due dates, netiquette expectations, etc.), can pique student’s interest in a topic and make them feel a sense of ownership in the material under discussion. Follow this link for a guide to setting up discussion forums.

Posting Your Materials

Posting to Canvas

To use Canvas for this application, after creating your materials, you log in at, access the course in question, and upload these materials into the “Files” area of the course site. Then, you can create a Page or an Announcement and link to the files you have uploaded, along with some contextual material.

Click here to learn more about using Canvas.

Posting Videos

If you have videos that you would like to post to YouTube, Vimeo, or another publicly-accessible video sharing site, you can do that. Once you’ve uploaded a video (or selected a pre-existing video on such a site that can serve as learning material for your lesson), you simply need to get the URL to that video and disseminate that to your students.

If you have used WebEx to capture your screen and your audio (and you remembered to press the Record button), then you can copy the link to the recording and post it inside the LMS to direct students to that recording.

Communicating With Students

Once you’ve created and/or posted your materials, now all you need to do is communicate the situation to your students. Canvas has an “Announcements” feature that will notify the students connected to that course site that a message has been posted. You can link to your materials from inside this announcement, regardless of whether the materials were uploaded into the LMS site or whether they are external recording.

If you would like a guide to posting an announcement, review this helpful information document.

To ensure the material makes sense, you should also provide a brief explanation to provide context for how this material fits into the overall scheme of the course, and/or how it builds upon material the students have already covered. Clear instructions and expectations for deliverables should also be included.

Looking for More Assistance?

Please feel free to contact us if you are looking for more information about you can engage your class during cancellations.

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