Emergency Preparedness

From ElateWiki

Various colleges and universities, and some high schools, have been looking to take core face-to-face learning functions online in the case of place-based or other types of emergencies. This assumes initial training of students in using the learning / course management system. It also assumes the faculty and staff have created contents for online delivery which can be used. It may also mean that online content can be quickly created under certain circumstances.


These emergencies may involve challenges like infrastructure problems—breaks to a water main, natural disaster-caused damage such as storms or tornados, building problems (mold, renovations, and other hazards), and others. In cases of the threat of physical violence, disease outbreaks (to activate “social distancing”), and potentially unforeseen challenges, many of the basic functions of learning may be moved online.

These functions include the delivery of digital learning contents, the provision of mediated communications, “situational awareness” information sharing, and other functions.


Staff Awareness

Current technologies are being used to help staff members stay in touch through a crisis. One method is identifying a centralized web location or “alert centers” for information distribution and exchange. Another involves the use of SMS (short message service) via cell phones and mobile devices to provide situational awareness.

Skeleton staff (aka “essential personnel”) that ensure continuance of educational services particularly need to be able to support core functions.

Often, there are multiple channels of information distribution and sharing.

Backups for Online Learning

The backups for online learning, in case of electricity failure or technology challenges, involve fall-back to phone trees, SMS, and taking the learning more into the real.

Sample Emergency Plans

Most emergency plans are "all hazards" ones which consider a possible range of contingencies. A number of universities and colleges have placed their emergency plans online.

Cornell University's Emergency Plan: http://www.epr.cornell.edu/docs/Cornell_Emergency_Plan_-_public_site_6.08(1).pdf

Seattle Pacific University's "Emergency and Crisis Management Plan": http://www.spu.edu/info/emergency/

University of South Carolina (Columbia Campus)'s "Emergency Management Plan": http://www.sc.edu/emergency/EmergencyManagement.pdf

See Also

National Association of College and University Business Officers’ “Emergency Preparedness”: http://www.nacubo.org/x9153.xml?ss=pf

DisabilityInfo.gov’s “Emergency Preparedness”: http://www.disabilityinfo.gov/digov-public/public/DisplayPage.do?parentFolderId=5159

“Online Learning in an Emergency: Delivering the Curriculum when the Campus is Closed”: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/09-20-2006/0004436664&EDATE=


Emergency Preparedness Photo by bpende (Creative Commons), Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bpende/3508482183/