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Sep 7 / Carl Sorgen

Teaching through Technological Outages

How do you keep your classes moving ahead when technology isn’t cooperating?


The beginning of the semester can present technological challenges under the best circumstances.  Recently, faculty and students have experienced ongoing issues with accessing Blackboard, the WSU learning management system.  During this time of fluctuating access, consider other means to communicate with your students. For example, some instructors on campus have found email and the Academica stream helpful substitutes.


Here are some suggestions:

  • Remind students that you are available to them (in person, by phone, via Skype, or email). Highlight your contact information and office hours.   Assuring your students that they can still reach you will make them feel more connected to their course and you during a time of technological outages.
  • Reassure students that they are not the only ones experiencing these issues; the situation is campus wide and the university is doing everything possible to remedy it.
  • Email a copy of the syllabus, related course materials, and information on upcoming assignments so they have an electronic copy on hand until they have Blackboard access again. From there, they can choose what to print and what to save on their computer or in email.


You may also want to consider being flexible with your current deadlines.

  • For example, you could email your students to let them know you are extending the due date of current assignments because of the technology glitch.
  • Consider allowing students to submit assignments by email, via OneDrive, or by sharing a Google Doc.
  • If pertinent to your course, allow students multiple attempts on assignments and avoid checking “Forced Completion,” as students may not be able to complete assignments or tests if a technical glitch occurs.


As always, the Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) and Computing & Information Technology (C&IT) are here to assist you.  We are happy to think creatively with you to ensure a successful experience for students and instructors.


Have you found strategies that are working well for you and your students? Share your ideas in the comments.

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