1. Are faculty prepared to teach online?
The use of Learning Management Systems is pretty universal so you've probably got the platform in place already. With the growth of online programs in the last decade you've probably got a fair number of courses built out. But by no means are ALL courses built in the LMS in most institutions. While it can be quite challenging to expect professors or course designers to build out these courses in a few weeks, schools should at least start thinking about approaches – who needs coaching?, what content should get pushed up to the LMS in each course?, should teachers be using their phones to create short lecture vids?, should course designers be helping faculty put together assessments online?
2. Are you prepared to host large numbers of remote workers?
Unless you already happen to have a large percentage of staff set up to work remotely (and hopefully securely), you may be flooded with requests to make that happen. Hopefully you have a fundamental solution in place. Depending on how this is configured and licensed, it may only take labor to make this happen, but in some cases it may also require new licenses or systems configuration work. You need to figure that out ASAP. This may also be a consideration for some faculty as well, especially if your LMS if not cloud based. Also, I didn't mention email, but I am assuming almost everyone has web/cloud based access to email.
3. Do you have the bandwidth you need?
No. 1 and No. 2 are likely to require increased bandwidth (unless you are heavily cloud based already). This can take some time to negotiate and get in place, so again, start working on this right now.
4. Do you have everyone's personal phone number (or remote use of your phone system)?
How is everyone going to communicate. Chances are your email allows for cloud based access, so hopefully that's not an issue, but what about voice communication? Most institutions are used to using extensions to call each other, but if no one is at their desks, that can be pretty inefficient (or totally non-functional if people don't know how to check voice mail remotely). This is a good time to get a personal phone number documented for everyone (check with HR – there is remote chance they may have this already).
5. Are you expecting any significant shipments of technology hardware?
If you have large projects under way that are dependent on shipments of hardware, you should reach out to those vendors now and determine if they are being delayed. There are already significant disruption to supply chains, especially for goods originating in China. You may need to reset priorities (and of course, the issues above are already resetting them for us).
These are just a few key questions to be asking yourself right now about your preparedness for a potential short term closure of your college or university. These are by no means the only questions or concerns. If you are reading this and want to add to the list, please comment! And good luck out there – wash those hands!
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