Preparing for the h1n1 virus:
an instructor's guide

By Rhett McDaniel, Educational Technologist, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

According to the Technical Report on CDC Guidance for Responses to Influenza for Institutions of Higher Education during the 2009-2010 Academic Year, more than 17 million students attend the 4,300 degree-granting post-secondary institutions in the United States and more than 3 million people work as faculty and staff. Planning ahead for the potential course impact of the H1N1 flu virus will help minimize departmental and classroom disruptions this flu season.

Preparing for Class

A high absentee rate could interrupt the flow of course content delivery, hinder the ability of students to complete assignments, or delay group work. Leveraging OAK and other web-based tools can help you continue instruction if you are not able to teach, as well as communicate with students infected with H1N1 who are not able to attend class.

Course Communication
Using an online threaded discussion can help keep open the lines communication between you and students. The CFT has developed a teaching guide that outlines how to design and moderate online discussions.


Student Interaction
Blogs can aid student interaction by allowing students to keep a learning journal, comment on posts from other students, and give students an environment in which they post reflections on course content or assignments.

Additionally, a wiki will allow student groups to work collaboratively at a distance by giving the ability to share and edit content over the Web. Read the Center's teaching guide on using blogs and wikis for instruction for ideas on how you might incorporate a blog or wiki into your course.

Web-based document sharing applications like Google Docs or Zoho might also prove useful to students as they complete group projects and assignments.


Access to Course Content
Posting audio or video recordings of class assignments or lectures can make content available to students from home.  The CFT has created a resource that explains your options for posting media content, and guides you through the resources for podcasting at Vanderbilt.

Providing online access to course documents helps students who cannot come to class connect to course materials. Homework assignments, case studies, and other course materials can be placed on electronic reserve by the library and posted to your OAK course. In addition, the library has created a guide for using library resources in OAK or a stand-alone course Web page.

Instructional Strategies
The Duke Center for Instructional Technology outlines some strategies to help “flu-proof your course.” It includes preparing a communications strategy, arranging for a way to keeping the class going when you are not able to go, collecting and grading assignments, and managing group work. In addition, they maintain a blog where you can find additional ideas and tips you might find useful for your class.


Vanderbilt Health and Safety Resources

Becoming familiar with the Vanderbilt’s processes and guidelines regarding H1N1 will help you as you determine your classroom policies during this flu season.  The following resources may be useful as you provide recommendations to students and determine what kinds of alternatives to offer.

The Vanderbilt Emergency Preparedness and Planning Web site provides current Vanderbilt H1N1 information to help you plan accordingly. It includes travel advisories, guidelines for faculty and staff, a frequently asked questions page for students, and a list of healthcare providers.

In addition, the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic Web site lists flu preventions steps, provides dates and locations for the flu vaccine program, and features a new questionnaire called the "Flu Tool." Based on your responses, you are given advice about work and treatment.

The Student Health Center has published guidelines for students to follow when they experience flu-like symptoms or develop a fever over 100 degrees. In addition, this H1N1 question and answer document may be useful to your students.

Vanderbilt is on the forefront of flu vaccine trials. Dr. Kathryn Edwards in the Department of Pediatrics directs Vanderbilt’s vaccine evaluation program. Her comments on the trial were the lead story on a recent CBS Evening News broadcast. Watch the video clip.


National H1N1 Resources

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has created a Toolkit for Institutions of Higher Education that provides information and communication resources to help students, faculty, and staff implement the CDC’s recommendations from Guidance for Responses to Influenza for Institutions of Higher Education during the 2009-2010 Academic Year.  

In addition, HHS periodically holds press conferences in order to broadcast the latest thinking on the subject. You can view any of these broadcasts on the HHS video archives web page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzes information about flu activity in the U.S. and publishes findings of key indicators in a report called "Flu View." The CDC also has the latest updates from health officials and the most current guidelines for prevention, including recommendations for the amount of time those with the flu should be away from others.



Inside Higher Ed provides a current list of all the articles and assembles highlights of their coverage regarding the impact of the H1N1 virus on higher education on their "In Focus" page.



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