Alternative Assignments for Snow Days

“I’ve had to revise my syllabus twice, changing the schedule, and as a result, changing the weight of the first two exams….it’s an unfortunate start…not something that cannot be overcome.” – Professor Brian Pilecki (

Technology-based assignment alternatives:

  1. Lecture / Discussion
    • Record a lecture (easy solution – you can use Microsoft PPT with voiceover or Panopto)
    • Use a discussion board for students to discuss the topic and respond to each other
  2. Hold class synchronously – Zoom
  3. E-learning days online
    • Use Ted talks or other similar resources to prompt learning and discussion.
    • Taping video or audio lectures ahead of time on subjects that can be placed anywhere in the semester, but need to be addressed
  4. Remind101 – text messaging from teacher to student where numbers are anonymous

What if students lose electricity?

Have students form groups at the beginning of the semester, share contact information that way if phones or computers die there is likely a possibility that someone still has a charge. Even if campus is closed, students on campus can get together to work on groups using technology or physical assignments (great article about online classes going offline due to power outages).

Technological utilization can enhance student participation/students are engaged because it’s a change of pace, exciting, and different (

Offline assignment alternatives:

  1. The dreaded paper
    1. pre-written prompts broad enough to relate to anything taught up to the current period of the semester
  2. Creative use of snow
    1. Health: get out in the snow and have students take baseline stats and then record their exercise and retake stats
    2. Science: “kitchen test” with snow
    3. Math: Calculate speeds of sleds etc.
    4. English: creative writing pieces
    5. Arts: create art using snow or through observation of snow
    6. Education: students plan own alternative lesson for a hypothetical snow day

Scaling Up Your Courses

“Scaling up Courses”
Anastasia Salter

Has your class size grown? It seems like just a few more students should not matter but often it does. Our Profhacker friends at the Chronicle of Higher Education offer some recommendations for how to adjust when your class gets “scaled up”.


  1. Eliminate assignments that have a low return investment
    1. It’s more beneficial to provide meaningful feedback on fewer, necessary assignments
    2. If some assignments are indisposable, they can be switched to participation grades
  2. Consider peer-review for assessment of early stage assignments where and when possible
    1. While detailed feedback for the students is ideal, it can consume time that could be spent on giving vital feedback on large assignments
    2. Course management tools can also be beneficial in addition to providing in-class time for peer review
  3. Examine the benefits of individual versus group projects
    1. The decision between the two is significant, but individual projects can be more time-consuming to grade and give feedback
    2. Group projects also present their own set of issues such as uneven contribution and participation and missing group members
  4. Anticipate questions and provide supplementary materials
    1. A challenging aspect of having a large class size is the continual routine of answering constant emails with questions from students
      1. Take questions at the end of the class
      2. Possibly provide a FAQ portion on the syllabus or for each assignment
    2. Streamline grading and rubrics where appropriate
      1. Pre-written comments for general problems that students run into saves time and energy
      2. This leaves more time for comments and feedback on the crucial and unique parts of students’ work and for future improvements they can make

Migrating Your Files From FPA Media Server to Panopto

After many years of great service, the FPA Media Server is being retired. The good news is that it is being replaced by two new services that will provide a massive increase in functionality and ease of use: Panopto and OneDrive.

If you or your department have files on the FPA Media Server, please begin downloading these files and migrating them to the new systems. If you have video or audio materials, you will want to upload them to Panopto; documents will go to OneDrive.

For a step-by-step walkthrough on how to download your files and migrate them to Panopto and OneDrive, please click here for a detailed stepsheet.

Getting Started with Panopto

Creating flipped videos (videos intended to be viewed by students outside of class) can be a great way to provide learning resources for students and free up face-to-face time for discussion and higher order learning.

All WCU faculty and staff have access to Panopto, a desktop recording and video hosting platform that is a powerful tool for creating flipped video.

You can access your own personal folder directly at  Use the “WCU Panopto Login” option and your WCU credentials and you are ready to start playing with it.

Like most web tools, it is designed for you to dive right into using it.  To associate with your Canvas course, simply login to Canvas, select a course and click “Panopto Video” in the course menu.

or you can simply use the “Share” feature in each video to create a web link that can be shared in your Canvas course, in an email or as a post on any web forum.  Remember that the default viewing function is that only you can see the video, so, if you haven’t associated it with a particular course and you want to share it, you will have to change the share settings.