Academic continuity: Staying true to teaching values and objectives in the face of course interruptions


  • Terence Day Okanagan College



class cancellation, gender, natural disasters, pandemics, Skype, student engagement, violence, web-based conferencing


Academic continuity planning is an emerging tool for dealing with class cancellation associated with natural disasters, acts of violence and the threat of pandemics. However, academic continuity can also be an issue with respect to less dramatic events, such as power outages, inclement weather, or the temporary unavailability of an instructor, especially if the problem is recurring. Many of the proposed alternative forms of delivery involve some form of web-based learning, but the extent to which these approaches work when students expect face-to-face delivery has not previously been examined. In one such interruption, web-based conferencing from home was undertaken. Based on average test scores, learning was unimpeded by web-based conferencing for one week, but there were some small gender effects that warrant further investigation. Many student comments reflected reduced engagement. The professor noted that students were more likely to respond to questions when the students could see the professor instead of the slides, but in general there were fewer student responses to questions than in face-to-face lectures. A number of comments made unsolicited comparisons with the traditional lecture format, suggesting that the context for teaching and learning, and students’ previous experience of different teaching approaches may merit more discussion in online learning studies.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Terence Day, Okanagan College

Terence Day is a Professor in the Department of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science at Okanagan College (Canada).


Abdous, M., & Yoshimura, M. (2010). Learner outcomes and satisfaction; A comparison of live video-streamed instruction, satellite broadcast instruction, and face-to-face instruction. Computers & Education, 55, 733-741.

Arbaugh, J.B., Godfrey, M.R., Johnson, M., Pollack, B.L., Niendorf, B., & Wresch, W. (2009). Research in online and blended learning in the business disciplines: key findings and possible future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 12, 71-87.

Bair, B.E., & Bair, M.A. (2011). Paradoxes of online teaching. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5, (2).

Brouwer, N. & McDonnell, C. (2009). Online Support and Online Assessment for Teaching and Learning Chemistry. In Eilks, I. &Byers, B. (Eds.), Innovative methods of teaching and learning Chemistry in Higher Education (pp. 123-152) Cambridge, UK: RSC Publishing.

Buultjens, M., & Robinson, P. (2011). Enhancing aspects of the higher education student experience. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(4), 337-346.

De Gagne, J.C., & Walters, K. (2009). Online teaching experience: A qualitative metasynthesis (QMS). MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5, 577-589.

Douglas, C. (2011). Preparing for the unexpected: Ensuring academic continuity. Desire2Learn Whitepaper.

Dupuis, J., Coutu, J., & Laneuville, O. (2013). Application of linear mixed-effect models for the analysis of exam scores: online video associated with higher scores for undergraduate students with lower grades. Computers & Education, 66, 64-73.

Foster, A.L., & Young, J.R. (2005). The Internet as emergency tool. The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16. Retrieved from

Holmes, E.C., Ghedin, E., Halpin, R.A., Stockwell, T.B., Zhang, X.Q., Fleming, R., Davey, R., Benson, C.A., Mehta, S., Taplitz, R., Liu, Y.T., Brouwer, K.C., Wentworth, D.E., Lin, X. Schooley, R. T. (2011). Extensive geographical mixing of 2009 human H1N1 influenza: A virus in a single university community. Journal of Virology, 85(14), 6923-6929.

Jones, A.Y.M., Dean, E., & Hui-Chan, C. (2010). Comparison of teaching and learning outcomes between video-linked, web-based, and classroom tutorials: An innovative international study of profession education in physical therapy. Computers & Education, 54, 1193-1201.

Joy, E.H., & Garcia, F.E. (2000). Measuring learning effectiveness: a new look at no-significant-difference findings. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 4, 33-39.

Ke, F., & Kwak, D. (2013). Online learning across ethnicity and age: A study on learning interaction participation, perception, and learning satisfaction. Computers & Education, 61, 43-51.

Kear, K., Chetwynd, F., Williams, J., & Donelan, H. (2012). Web conferencing for synchronous online tutorials: Perspectives of tutors using a new medium. Computers & Education, 58, 953-963.

Kirkwood, A., & Price, L. (2013). Examining some assumptions and limitations of research on the effects of emerging technologies for teaching and learning in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44, 536-543.

Leonard, E. W. (2009). Teaching Sicko. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 37, 139-146.

Lu, X.A.L., & Ramsey, M.C. (2013). Passive Addiction or Why We Hate Work: An Investigation of Problems in Organizational Communication. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

McKimm, J. (2009). “Teaching Quality, Standards and Assessment.” In H. Fry, Ketteridge, S., & Marshall, S. (Eds.), Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (pp. 186-197). London, Routledge.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in on-line learning: a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Washington, DC: US Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.

Meyer, K.A., & Wilson, J.L., (2011). The Role of Online Learning in the Emergency Plans of Flagship Institutions. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume IV, Number I, Spring 2011.

Nielsen, G.B. (2011). Peopling policy: On conflicting subjectivities of fee-paying students. In C. Shore, S. Wright and D. Però (Eds.), Policy Worlds: Anthropology and the Analysis of Contemporary Power. (pp. 68-85). Oxford: Berghahn,

Ocak, M.A. (2011). Why are faculty members not teaching blended courses? Insights from faculty members. Computers & Education, 56, 689-699.

Omar, A., Liu, L.C., & Koong, K.S. (2008). From disaster recovery to mobile learning: A case study. International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation, 2(1), 4-7.

Quesada-Pineda, H.J., Adams, E., & Hammett, A.L. (2011). Incorporating experiential teaching methods in sustainable natural resources curriculum: A case study. Journal of Natural Resources & Life Sciences Education, 40(1), 181-190.

Regan, K., Evmenova, A., Baker, P., Jerome, M.K., Spencer, V., Lawson, H., & Werner, T. (2012). Experiences of instructors in online learning environments: Identifying and regulating emotions. Internet and Higher Education, 15, 204-212.

Reupert, A., Maybery, D., Patrick, K. & Chittleborough, P. (2009). The importance of being human: Instructors’ personal presence in distance programs. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(1), 47-56.

Russell, T.L. (2000). The no significant difference phenomenon: a comparative research annotated bibliography on technology for distance education. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University.

Santibañez, S., Fiore, A.E., Merlin, T.L., & Redd, S. (2009). A primer on strategies for prevention and control of seasonal and pandemic influenza. American Journal of Public Health, 99(S2), S216-S224.

SchWeber, C. (2008). Determined to learn: Accessing education despite life-threatening disasters. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(1) 37-43.

SchWeber, C. (2013). Survival Lessons: Academic Continuity, Business Continuity, and Technology. In Van den Bossche, P, Gijselaers, WH., Milter, RG. (Eds.) Facilitating Learning in the 21st Century: Leading through Technology, Diversity and Authenticity (pp. 151-163). Dordrecht: Springer. University of British Columbia (n.d.) Time to ACT (Academic Continuity Toolkit)

University of Washington School of Law (n.d.) H1N1 Academic Continuity Plan.

Van, D., McLaws, M-L., Crimmins J., MacIntyre, C.R., Seale, H. (2010). University life and pandemic influenza: Attitudes and intended behaviour of staff and students towards pandemic (H1N1) 2009. BMC Public Health, 10, 130.

Virginia Tech (n.d.) Academic continuity: Strategies for alternative instructional delivery.

Whillier, S., & Lystad, R.P. (2012). The effect of face-to-face teaching on student knowledge and satisfaction in an undergraduate neuroanatomy course. Anatomical Science Education, 6(4) 239-245.

Young, J.R. (2009). In Case of Emergency, Break Tradition—Teach Online. The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17. Retrieved from




How to Cite

Day, Terence. 2015. “Academic Continuity: Staying True to Teaching Values and Objectives in the Face of Course Interruptions”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 3 (1):75-89.