Clouds over SMU Campus

Important Notice About Technical Readiness for Continued Instruction

As we monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19, SMU is implementing contingency plans in preparation for the possibility of disruptions. Above all, the SMU community will be vigilant and committed to preserving the learning and instructional process. We recognize the imperative to prevent or to mitigate learning interruptions for all students, and are especially mindful of the experience of those students scheduled to graduate at the conclusion of this semester. To that end, SMU will ensure that online course delivery technologies and support resources are available to all faculty for immediate use in the event that on-campus attendance is impeded at any point in the future.

As we make plans to support the scenario where in-person courses must be moved online during an emergency, several key technology systems will play critical roles in enabling instructional continuity.

Step 1: Communication Systems

Early communication with your students is key regarding campus closures and alternate teaching arrangements. Two primary tools may be used to contact all students within your class:

My.SMU Class Roster (email)

Faculty can quickly email their entire class via my.SMU. Login to my.SMU and go to the Faculty Center. Then click the Class Roster button. You can use the notification option to communicate with your students.

Canvas Announcements

Faculty using Canvas can send an announcement that students will receive in their email program outside of the Canvas LMS. On the class menu, simply click Announcements, and then the “+ Announcement” button. Then type your message, including any links or attachments, and click the Save button at the bottom.

Step 2: Instructional Systems

SMU recommends two technology systems to facilitate various types of instruction and interaction during a campus closure: Zoom and Canvas.


Zoom is a cloud-based audio/video conferencing solution. Zoom allows faculty to connect with up to 100 students through simple online meetings, group messaging, and a software-defined conference room solution all in an easy-to-use platform. Zoom is available to all active faculty at

Lectures/Live Presentations:

You can present live via Zoom to provide audio, video, and content/screen sharing. The Zoom meeting can be recorded and even shared afterward by posting to your Canvas course. Links to scheduled Zoom meetings can be emailed or distributed to students via Canvas announcements.

You can use Zoom pre-record your lectures and post within a Canvas course. There are also several other built-in tools in Canvas to accommodate the recording of your lectures, such as Panopto, Canvas Conferences and Zoom.

Discussions or Group Work:

Zoom can provide and organize real-time video discussion groups. Such Breakout rooms within Zoom can be used to separate large classes into smaller groups.


Canvas is the online course management system at SMU. It allows faculty to post class assignments, notes, conduct tests, host discussion boards, and more, all through a standard web browser. Classes are automatically created in Canvas, and both students and faculty are automatically assigned to their courses. To begin using Canvas, go to

Tests and Assignments:

Canvas features robust options for the delivery of assignments or tests that can be scheduled so they are accessible students only during specified timeframes. For test integrity, consider using LockDown Browser or Respondus Monitor.

Discussions/Group Work:

Canvas provides integrated systems for text-based class discussions, allowing both you and the students to start and contribute. Discussions can also be created as an assignment for grading purposes (and seamlessly integrated with the Canvas Gradebook), or simply serve as a forum for topical and current events. Discussions can also be created within student groups.


Substituting lab instruction may be challenging during a campus closure scenario since many labs require specific equipment. For labs consider other ways to facilitate learning such as providing data for analysis, presenting online video content related to lab activities or procedures, or possibly investigate virtual lab resources (Merlot).

Step 3: Getting Help

We will be here to help!

Even during campus closure, SMU’s IT Help Desk will remain open and OIT team members will continue to be readily available to assist with the various technologies outlined above. The IT Help Desk is available by phone at 214-768-HELP (4357) or via email at We will be able to connect you to your Academic Technology Service Director or other appropriate OIT resource to provide the support you need.

The Office of Information Technology website ( provides links to various training resources for Zoom, Canvas, Box, as well as thousands of training videos on LinkedIn Learning.

Above all, know that the Office of Information Technology, in coordination with the rest of the campus, will be available to help you and your students during any campus emergency. If you need technical or instructional help with keeping your class running, contact your Academic Technology Services Director or the main IT Help Desk immediately. Please reach out immediately if you have questions or if you would like some personal assistance preparing your course for possible emergencies.

For more information, please visit

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the IT Help Desk at 214-768-HELP (4357) or email

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Published by

Rachel Mulry

Associate CIO for Planning and Customer Service Office of Information Technology