Teaching Options for a Snow Day

  • Faculty & Staff

Teaching can go on if snow or other unforeseen problems prevent you and your students from getting to class.

Before deciding if you should cancel class, be sure to check the Penn home page or call 215-898-MELT (215-898-6358) to see if the University is operating on a normal schedule. You should also check with the program office for your school (e.g. LPS, Fels, Dynamics, the College).

Here are a few suggestions for how you can keep your students engaged even if you can't get to the classroom.

Stay in touch with your class

There are easy ways you can get messages to your students

Conduct online, asynchronous discussions 

Discussion boards allow you and your students to post and reply to questions.  It's also a useful way to engage students in review & comment on each other's work.  

  • Use  the discussion board feature in Canvas to facilitate asynchronous, written discussion. Discussion boards can be configured for a variety of uses, including to allow anonymous posts.

Record a lecture that students can watch outside of class

If you weren't able to deliver a lecture in person, you can record it and make it available to your students through Canvas

Zoom Web Conferencing


Zoom provides functionality similar to WebEx, GoToMeeting and other web conferencing systems. It supports voice, camera and screen sharing, plus text chat. Participatns without access to a computer can call in via telephone.
All full-time faculty and staff are automatically eligble for Zoom  accounts; part-time faculty and staff can get Zoom accounts upon request.  Please note that students do not need accounts in order to participate in the Zoom session.  Details available at http://zoom.sas.upenn.edu

FreeConference, Standard Service


Telephone conferencing service.

Teacher/Meeting host can sign up for a free account and gets a phone number and access code that can be used at any time. Accommodates up to 150 participants.
No charge to meeting host, but toll charges apply to all callers.



A popular internet communication service with a variety of service options.

Voice conferencing over computer or telephone; video or screensharing optional.  Up to 25 people can participate in a conference call.  No charge for users talking via computer, but users need to have Skype accounts and have the program installed.  Charges apply for calling to standard phones or for group video calls.

For situations when the students can make it to class, but the instructor can't, please see our instructions about how to connect to a classroom through Skype

Google Hangouts




Google Hangouts provide free audio and video conferencing (including screen sharing) for groups of up to 10 participants.  All participants must have google accounts.  Please note that Google Hangouts are NOT included in Google@SAS accounts; all participants must join through "regular" Google accounts (e.g. student.name@gmail.com).