Guide To Teaching and Learning

Intentional Course Design

With university guidance that those who are feeling sick–faculty, students, staff–should stay home, plan your syllabus and course meetings and activities intentionally and consider how the use of intentional strategies, including online supplementation for in-person courses, such as discussion groups and video, can provide support for and be inclusive of all students. In addition, faculty are encouraged to think about planned in-class activities with the wearing of masks in classrooms being ‘encouraged but optional’. For example, some students may be uncomfortable being paired for a conversation or activity with a student who is unmasked. Further guidance is available here.

Faculty learned a lot about the values of online tools for teaching and learning. If you taught your course in Canvas, consider how rolling the materials over to future semesters can support absent students. Use Canvas or other online tools and strategies for some content delivery and student participation, as appropriate, given the student learning outcomes and pedagogical methods of your course. 

  • Faculty may design their course(s) to have occasional individual class sessions meet online where appropriate to the learning outcomes and pedagogy (e.g., synchronously via Zoom or asynchronously via Canvas). 

Using intentional online strategies as a complement to in-person learning does not mean ‘teaching a second course’ or ‘teaching the course twice’ if incorporated before the start of the semester. Note that in some colleges, the use of online (Zoom, Canvas) teaching as a substitute for an in-person class may require approval from your dean’s office or academic program. 

While the use of online strategies is encouraged, faculty do not have permission to switch their in-person courses to fully online for a portion of the semester. 

Note: Class session modalities should be clearly outlined in the syllabus. Unless planned in the syllabus, defined class sessions should not change modalities UNLESS an emergency prevents the faculty member from meeting their in-person classes. Students should know from the start of the semester which class sessions will meet in synchronous Zoom sessions or through asynchronous activities in Canvas, Mural or other interface. 

Some complementary online strategies to consider:

  • Use the Canvas discussion board for all students in the class. This is an equitable practice for English language learners as well.
  • In considering synchronous vs asynchronous activities and experiences:
    • Faculty who use Canvas for some content delivery and asynchronous learning activities may, in consultation with their program chair/director, reduce the number of in-person class sessions as appropriate to the pedagogy and learning outcomes. These should all be detailed in the syllabus. 
    • Use Canvas for delivery of asynchronous content where appropriate to the course.
    • Plan “Zoom days” in advance in your syllabus for synchronous but remote classes where appropriate to the pedagogy and learning outcomes. For example:
      • You might want to have your third class meeting on Zoom so everyone can see each other’s faces without masks. 
      • Demonstrations that require students to gather around a table are probably better held via Zoom as well, and it’s a more equitable practice since everyone “sees the same thing” and you can record and share the recording. 
      • Crits, presentations on projects, final papers, and other activities in which students are communicating extensively with each other may be best held on Zoom for ease of communication.

In all instances, “Zoom days” should be indicated on the syllabus with the pedagogical rationale for such days. Examples of alternative means of participation is available here.

  • Faculty should use their judgment for which modality works best to achieve the learning outcomes of the course in a particular class meeting but the great majority of their classes should be conducted in person.

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