Fall 2020 Instruction

The Center for Teaching Innovation offers support to assist faculty in designing and teaching flexible, resilient courses for Fall 2020. The goal is to help faculty develop and implement engaging student learning experiences that are effective in both in-person and online instructional settings.

Fall 2020 Teaching Scenarios

Online courses are designed a priori to be delivered completely online, with no in-person participation among instructors or students. This is different from providing remote access into the classroom for courses that are taught in-person but have students participating from outside of the classroom (e.g., students who are unable to return to campus, are in quarantine, etc.). There are some notable similarities and differences across the two, explained below. Also below are resources and course support options for both teaching settings.

In-person Teaching with Remote Students | Online Teaching

If you did not teach online in Spring 2020, we also offer resources for getting started.


In-Person Teaching with Remote Students

Remote student on computer with in-person class

Instructors of in-person courses will teach live in the classroom, just like their regular mode of teaching). Ally, an accessibility tool in Canvas, can be turned on to assist with course content accessibility. Also, instructors will need to provide a way for students who are not in the classroom to participate. Depending on the time zones of the students enrolled, remote participation could occur synchronously using Zoom or asynchronously using recordings of class meetings.

Instructors teaching in-person courses with remote students should consider:

  • continuing to use their existing syllabi
  • relying upon the course design they have used for traditional in-person courses
  • recording class sessions for remote students (this can also be helpful for in-person students)
  • communicating regularly and clearly about what is required versus optional material
  • creating a sense of course community with strategies for bringing in-person and remote students together

We have developed resources and support options to help you plan, prepare, and teach in-person courses with remote access. These options include two tracks:

  • a guided support track consisting of hands-on workshops with instructional designers leading faculty through the design considerations
  • an independent support track consisting of resources and information for instructors who prefer a self-directed approach to designing their courses

Online Teaching

Laptop with stack of books

In contrast, an online course requires more planning in advance since teaching materials should be pre-recorded. Students can then access teaching materials at their own pace. However, frequent opportunities for instructor/student engagement need to be made available (including for students in different time zones).

Instructors who will be teaching online courses should consider:

  • pre-recording shorter video lectures to be uploaded for students in advance
  • communicating regularly and clearly about what is required versus optional material
  • creating a sense of course community by offering frequent opportunities for instructor/student engagement (including for students in different time zones)
  • making adjustments to course materials to improve web accessibility based on course diagnostics provided by an accessibility tool called Ally that is integrated into Canvas (Note: Ally will be automatically activated in Canvas for online courses)

We have developed resources and two support options to help instructors prepare for their courses:

  • a guided support track consisting of hands-on workshops with instructional designers leading faculty through the design considerations
  • an independent support track consisting of resources and information for instructors who prefer a self-directed approach to designing their courses.

Teaching Concepts

Our colleagues at many institutions are also planning for this semester, and many good ideas are emerging. We will share the best thinking we find throughout the coming months.

In addition to our Fall materials, here are some general considerations for teaching students both in the classroom and online:

  • Plan for both environments: a small group activity or a write-and-share activity can be designed to work both for students in class and students in Zoom breakout rooms. Provide clear instructions for both groups, including how to share their work
  • Think about equity: whether students are in class or online, all students should have equal opportunities to participate, contribute, and learn. For example, students joining via Zoom should do more than listen and observe students participating in class. Shared google docs can connect students inside and outside the classroom
  • Become comfortable with the needed technology: reach out to your classroom AV support to ensure you can project Zoom sessions and slides, amplify your voice and either amplify or repeat student questions so students online can properly hear and participate
  • Build community: how can you create opportunities inside and outside of the classroom for students to interact with you and with each other? Work early in the semester on creating an inclusive learning environment can play a crucial role in student success, especially in difficult circumstances
  • Enlist help: interacting with students in class and online can be challenging. Enlist the help of teaching assistants, or rotating undergraduates, to help share questions from online students with the class

For more ideas or further advice about implementing these ideas, join our online drop-in hours or schedule a consultation.

CTI will continue to develop and enhance this site in response to the evolving situation and to answer instructors' questions as they emerge. Please contact us with questions or for additional information.