Universities, colleges, and schools can’t afford to operate without a robust disaster preparedness plan in place.
The recent threat of an H1N1 pandemic has brought this reality sharply into focus but security breaches, flood, fire, or other natural disasters might also require the partial or complete closing of a physical campus, compromise its infrastructure, or displace students and instructors.
Under these circumstances the ability to effectively communicate, deliver uninterrupted instruction and services, and organize meetings, becomes central to the disaster preparedness and recovery planning, not to mention the financial safeguarding, of educational institutions.
H1N1 Pandemic Preparedness
In the unfortunate case that Wimba’s technology would need to be employed as part of your recovery plan, we offer these guidelines, ”Disaster Preparedness: Wimba’s Guidance for Contingency Planning in the Case of an H1N1 Pandemic at your Institution,” to ensure that the greatest number of learning communities continue to function without interruption.
Part of our contingency plan includes creating MP4 files of your instruction so that content is “portable” and easily distributed or accessed by students any time, from any place. This short instructional video shows how in three easy steps MP4 files are created with Wimba Classroom 6.0.
Members of the Wimba community have planned for, or recovered from, disaster with the Wimba Collaboration Suite, as illustrated by these examples:
Staying Ahead of Disaster
- Kansas State University, Drexel University, University of Missouri - Kansas City, and others have developed comprehensive online resources for faculty and staff on emergency preparation, featuring information on the use of the Wimba platform.
- The University of Utah recently produced and distributed a video entitled, “What If They Closed The Campus?” pointing its community to the tools available in the event of a disaster or outbreak such as Swine Flu. Available on YouTube, the video includes details about the use of course management systems and Wimba for uninterrupted communication.
- Dalhousie University used Wimba Classroom for Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer to update 150 members of the province’s medical community about the Swine Flu outbreak.
“Wimba was the only technology that could ramp up almost immediately and be easily accessible by every physician in the province,” said Phil O’Hara, Assistant Director of Academic Computing Services at Dalhousie University.
- The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) holds regular online meetings among its 14 campuses to discuss its disaster preparedness initiatives using Wimba.
Preparation Pays Off
- In April, Valley City State University in Valley City, North Dakota relied on Wimba Classroom to continue course delivery after the campus was shut down for a month following severe flooding from the Sheyenne River.
- Last May, Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) in San Antonio turned to Wimba Pronto to communicate with students, faculty and administrators after a fire burned down its main administrative building, destroying the university’s phone system.
- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, several nursing classes at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center relied on Wimba and other online course technologies to help deliver instruction to its students, despite the displacement of many and the fact that several campus buildings were completely non-operational.