March 6, 2020

Be ready! Prepare a Backup Plan for Teaching

Extended closures or one-time class cancellations can occur for a variety of reasons: inclement weather, natural disaster, unexpected events, etc.  It is important to have a contingency plan which will help you continue course work successfully.  Blackboard provides faculty with a multitude of tools to assist with keeping courses live.

All official UAMS courses have a course shell in Blackboard.  If you are not using Blackboard for your class, please make your Blackboard course available and inform students about the Blackboard login process.

Please consider the following strategies utilizing Blackboard:

1. Communicate with your Students.

The easiest way to communicate with the entire class is to post an announcement.  Please make sure you check the “send a copy of this announcement immediately” box in the web announcement options.  Students will receive the announcement in their UAMS email.

For future terms, consider including a statement in your syllabus about Blackboard use in case of an emergency.

2. Continue class lectures with Collaborate Ultra.

Collaborate Ultra is a web conferencing tool available to all Blackboard courses.  It allows you to live stream to your students (synchronously) and record lectures (asynchronously). Other potential uses of Collaborate include virtual office hours, students/group presentations, and content review.

Once a session takes place, a recording can be downloaded and posted in your course. Collaborate also allows small group collaboration by dividing students into breakout groups.

Please review the recommended system requirements for Collaborate and the supported operating systems.

More information about Collaborate can be found on the Blackboard Help website.

3. Other useful tools you might consider.

Aside from posting your lecture materials, you can enhance asynchronous course activity by using discussion boards, assignments, and tests.

There are a number of options for adding content to your course. This guide will describe two methods: adding an item and adding a file.

Use discussion boards to engage students on the topics you cover or to post reviews and answers to important questions.

With assignments, you can enable students to submit course work.  This will enable you to easily access each submission, grade it, and provide feedback.  SafeAssign, a plagiarism prevention tool, is available to use with Blackboard assignments.

With tests, you can assess your students.  Please build your questions in Pools, build your test, and deploy it for students.

For high stake exams, you can increase the integrity of your online test by using Respondus LockDown Browser (RLDB) or Respondus Monitor.

RLDB locks down student computers during an exam.  It discourages students from opening windows or using copy/paste during the exam.

Respondus Monitor is a virtual proctoring tool that records students during the exam and flags suspicious activity for the instructors to review.

Instructor Training Webinars for Respondus

Additional Resources

Contingency Planning sessions for faculty

Please RSVP to Martha Carle at to reserve a seat or submit requests for personalized training.

SoftChalk Cloud is available to all UAMS faculty and makes it easy to create and share self-contained, interactive, online modules that can reside inside Blackboard Courses.

For faculty support please contact us at

For student technical support please contact IT Help Desk at (501) 686 – 8555.

Thank you,

The eLearning Team