Welcome to Arkansas State University!

Any number of circumstances can impact a typical class schedule

  • Campus closures
  • Inclement weather
  • Extended illness (self or family)
  • Travel to a conference
  • Power failure
  • Maternity/paternity leave

In all of these instances there are technologies and assignments available that can help you deliver content to your students or have your students work together even if they cannot attend physical classes.

  • The Basics to Best Practices

    The Basics

    • Take care of yourself and your family.
    • Bring home hard copies of any resources, textbooks, or materials you may need if you are away from campus for an extended period of time.
    • Verify you have a functioning device at home

    Key Tips

    The top three tips for developing your contingency course plans, especially when you go online the first time, are:

    1. Start planning early.
    2. Keep your plan simple.
    3. Work with the technologies you know best.

    Best Practices

    Some best practices when you go online the first time are:

    • Introduce the remote learning tools you want to use early so you and your students become familiar and comfortable with them.
    • Cultivating a presence in an online course is important. Communicate early and often to maintain presence when classroom continuity is disrupted.
    • Focus on course outcomes. Prioritize coursework that helps your students moving toward achieving those outcomes.
    • Rearrange schedules and convert classroom activities to asynchronous activities that promote the same learning outcomes.
    • Specify file names to avoid receiving multiple copies of Essay1.docx — it will be easier to identify and grade student work when you have documents with a simplified naming convention (e.g., Jane_Doe_Essay1.docx).
  • Utilizing the LMS - Learning Management System
    Blackboard Learn (AState's LMS) is an excellent way to keep in touch with your students and provide them the information they need to succeed in your class. You can use your shell to post announcements, grades, share important files, or collect assignments. When you post this information to your class, students will be notified within Blackboard and you can send email reminders. Additionally, if students are using the Blackboard app, they can also get notifications on their mobile device.

    Even if you do not use Blackboard or other technologies, please consider developing an Academic Contingency Plan for your courses.Think about how will you…

    1. Communicate with students
    2. Organize and present your course content
    3. Engage and teach your students
    4. Assess and grade your students
  • Communicating with Students

    Communicate your plan with students so they know your expectations when regularly scheduled classes are not held. Many students will assume that if class is not held in the classroom, then class will not be held at all.

    1. Contact students by email or Blackboard announcement

    • Inform students how you will be communicating to them (email, phone, text, etc).
    • State your response time to email or messages (i.e., within 24 hours).

    2. Create a class emergency contact list

    • Download a student roster & email addresses from Blackboard Original or Self-Service Banner.
    • Collect phone numbers from your students for direct phone calls or text messages.
    • Many students use the GroupMe app to create study groups for classes already. If your students do, create a class group for sending quick notes back and forth to students.

    3. Provide emergency contact information to your students. 

    4. Clarify how students will submit assignments and how you will  keep students informed about their progress in the course

    • Upload Assignments via Blackboard assignments or send via email.
    • Whether you use Blackboard grade center, a spreadsheet, or a paper gradebook, it is important to clarify this process.
    • Tell students how they will receive grades and how often.

    Blackboard Announcements

    Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success. You can add, edit, and delete announcements from the Announcements page within your Blackboard Course. When you add an announcement, you can also send it as an email to students in your course. Students receive the announcement even if they don't log into your course.

    Click here for more information about Announcements


    You can email students from directly from within Blackboard or copy an email list from within Self-Service Banner.

    The Email tool in Blackboard allows you to send email to other people in your course. You can send email to the whole class, individual users or to groups of users.

    Click here for more information about Blackboard Email

  • Organizing and Presenting Course Content

    As part of your course contingency plan, you will want to:

    1. Share your syllabus with students in a digital format. Highlight any changes and adjustments that are being made based on your contingency plan. Provide enough information in your syllabus, email or Blackboard course shell so students can work independently for a short period of time, if needed.
    2. Convert paper-based materials to electronic format.
      • Save content to PDF when possible.
      • Leverage cloud storage (Dropbox, for example).
      • Maintain redundant backups on computer hard drive and/or portable storage.
      • Support accessibility. Ensure students who require accommodations can receive needed support.
    3. Identify and prepare course content that could be presented online. For example,
      • Prepare slide decks for sharing online.
      • Develop study guides if you usually have an in-class review day.
      • Consider using Open Educational Resources that would be free to students.
      • Secure and share important course readings and other materials using the library reserve system.

    In your Blackboard course, the materials you add are all presented together in the content list. Students may need to scroll up and down to view the content and the content list.


    You can organize content in folders and sub-folders. Using folders will help reduce scrolling and help students find materials more easily.

    In a Content Area,

    1. Click Building Content
    2. Select Folder


    You can create an item to present a combination of content. You can use the functions in the editor to format text, attach files, embed multimedia, and insert equations, links, and tables. You have creative control over how your content appears and the flexibility to change the order and appearance when you want.

    In a Content Area,

    1. Click Build Content
    2. Select Item

    Click here for more information about other types of content

    Working with Text

    You can use the functions in the Text Editor to format text, embed multimedia, and insert equations, links, and tables. 

    Click here for more information about the text editor


    Click here for more information about Accessibility in Blackboard Learn

  • Engaging and Teaching Students

    Engaging students during a time of disruption can help the class stay connected and informed about coursework and grades. This engagement can happen in a variety of ways, and by using a variety of instructional tools. Your decision about which tools to use should reflect your experience. Start with what you know and use now. 

    As part of your course contingency plan, you will want to:

    1. Prepare synchronous and/or asynchronous engagement opportunities that can exist outside the classroom. 
      • host virtual office hours
      • stream lectures
      • share links to online concerts or museum tours
    2. If you view media in class, what alternative do you have to ensure students can view these resources?
      • The Faculty Center provides digitizing services so that media can be linked in Blackboard.
      • Check with the library’s media collection or YouTube. What streaming services do your students use that have content they could watch for class (documentaries, etc.)


    When we say asynchronous, we are referring to interactions that do not occur at the same time. They occur at times convenient for the individual.

    Use the links below to learn more about asynchronous learning tools

    • Discussion Boards in Blackboard
    • VoiceThread (integrated into Blackboard) - contact the Faculty Center or AState Online Faculty Support for more information about VoiceThread


    When we talk about synchronous communication, we are referring to interactions that occur live and in real-time. These are often web conferencing tools. They can offer dial-in options for students with poor Internet connectivity. And some of them allow you to record a live session and upload it later for students to review. 

    Synchronous tools offer the flexibility to schedule a virtual office hour, deliver a live lecture, or conduct a review session. Web conferencing tools available to you include Blackboard Collaborate and Webex. We will review these in a moment.

    Helpful links:

  • Assessing and Grading

    Consider how you can leverage technology to offer assessments online

    • Flexibility is important

    Academic continuity may require adjusting deadlines for one, some, many or all students.

    Students may struggle with time management or their own emotional responses to disasters they are experiencing or have just experienced. (Gravenberg, Carey-Butler, & Horowitz, 2008)

    What can be done in Blackboard?

    Blackboard supports several gradable options:

    • Assessment (test, quiz, exam, essay, multiple-choice/standardized, timed)
    • Assignment (upload file, create within Bb or Google)
    • Discussion (interaction with class)

    What if I do not use Blackboard?

    If you give paper exams:

    • Consider posting a low-stakes Bb quiz for practice.
    • Respondus Test Manager (4.0) can be used to upload quizzes and exams that are in Word into Blackboard for online assessment.

    If you assign papers or other written work:

    • Post and collect a practice assignment in Blackboard.

    Academic Integrity

    Safe Assign

    SafeAssign may be used on assignments as a deterent for plagiarism and to determine the originality of student work. SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against online sources and a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.

    SafeAssign is based on a unique text matching algorithm capable of detecting exact and inexact matching between a paper and source material. Submissions are compared against several databases:

    • Global Reference Database
    • Institutional document archives
    • Internet
    • ProQuest ABI/Inform Journal Database

    Click here for more information about SafeAssign


    Turnitin®, a third-party tool, may be used on assignments as a deterent for plagiarism and to determine the originality of student work. https://www.turnitin.com/

    For more information about TurnitIn, contact the Faculty Center or AState Online Faculty Support.

    Exams and Proctoring

    AState offers several options for taking online exams with proctoring options.

    Respondus LockDown Browser

    Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Blackboard. Students cannot print, copy, go to
    another website, or access other applications. Once the assessment starts, students are locked into it until they submit it for grading.

    Respondus Monitor records each student while they are taking the exam. The videos are stores securely within the Blackboard course and are available for the instructor to review after the exam.

    Click here for more information about Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor


    Online examinations for certain programs are proctored using the ProctorU system. For more information about ProctorU, contact AState Online Faculty Support.

    RemoteProctor Now (RPNow)

    Online examinations for the Online MBA through the College of Business are proctored using the Securexam Remote Proctor Now (RPNow) system. For more information about ProctorU, contact the AState Faculty Center.


    Online examinations for certain programs are proctored using the ExamSoft system. For more information about ExamSoft, contact AState Online Faculty Support.


    You access the Grade Center from the Control Panel. Expand the Grade Center section to display the links to the Needs Grading page, the Full Grade Center, and the smart views.

    Below are several helpful links to get your started with the Grade Center

  • Connecting from Rural Locations

    For individuals that live in a rural area that has weak to no internet connectivity we offer these suggestions:

    1. Contact your local internet service provider to ask if you are able to increase your bandwidth at no cost and/or during specific time slots for you to do work from home.
    2. Visit your local library or public service office and ask if you can utilize their location for you to connect to the internet in order for you to do your work.
    3. Search for a local or nearby coffee shop or other establishment that offers free WiFI where you can do your work.
    4. Once you establish a good resource for connecting, schedule a routine session for you to do you work regularly as needed throughout the week.
    5. Contact local cell service providers and inquire on mifi/cell tower based internet options. This can be through a phone hotspot, or, a standalone device, the latter being extremely preferred as hotspots on phones can sometimes be challenging. Perhaps request a discounted rate given the situation at hand. Of course, the success of these are based on having good cell coverage in the area. These have been used for traveling and they typically are great solutions. Below are the coverage maps for some major carriers. This is probably the best short-term solution because you can take them with you. Approximate cost $75-$125/month:
    6. Remember most cableTV companies can also provide Internet to residential locations. Make sure and check with them, especially if you already have cableTV.
    7. Satellite internet exist but it’s slow and extremely expensive. This is not recommended unless there were no other options.

    Note: Expenses incurred for any of the above items are your responsibility. These are merely recommendations.

  • Help Desk and IT Store

    We know that with all the recent events, comes an outrageous amount of pressure, we at the IT Store and the Help Desk want to make sure that you have access to get assistance with Technical issues if they arise.

    Our Help Desk is 24/7 and would be able to assist by calling 870-972-3933. You can also email us at itshelpdesk@astate.edu for help Monday – Friday, 8am-5pm.

    Our IT Store is open as long as campus is open Monday – Friday 8am-5pm, however if you are not on campus or if it is easier for you please give us a call at 870-972-3500 or email the IT Store at itstore@astate.edu. Feel free to also connect with us on social media and the AState Student app.

  • Upcoming Trainings and Webinars

    AState Faculty Center - Check the Scheduler for upcoming events

    AState Online Faculty Support - Contact AOS for upcoming events


    Dates: Mar 17, 18, 19, 24 & 26 

    1. Teaching Online (Online Blackboard Learn Basics)
    2. Getting Started with Teaching a Virtual Class (Collaborate)
    3. Guide to Building Mobile Content

    Respondus - Register

    Dates: Daily 

    1. LockDown Browser and/or Respondus Monitor

    WebEx - Register

    Dates: Mar 19, 23, 24, 25, 30 & 31

    1. Overview of Webex Meetings
    2. Drop In Meetings
    3. Scheduling Meetings
    4. Conducting Webex Meetings

    Zoom - Register

    Dates: Mar 18, 23 & 25

    1. Zoom Meetings for Education
    2. Zoom Virtual Lunch & Learns: https://t.co/BveZZGXSeH