Fall 2021 semester is two weeks away! The Center for Teaching and Digital Learning Support look forward to seeing you all during Pre-Week events beginning Monday, August 16th.
As fall courses start taking shape, we encourage everyone to continue using flexible design strategies learned and practiced last year. Flexible courses provide accessible learning experiences and minimize disruptions for students and instructors.
To help you design for a flexible and engaging semester, we have curated strategies and resources for course design, community/connection, and feedback and assessment. Reach out to the Center or DLS if we can help you brainstorm ideas!
Refresh with ReFocus
Don’t forget that you already have a wealth of strategies and examples via ReFocus Online materials. Nearly everything presented can flex to in-person and more hybrid course designs–try out a new idea from course structure & communication, course assignments & feedback, content creation & curation, or engagement.
Unsure how to prioritize flexible course components? A course activity matrix can reveal which aspects of your course are most susceptible to disruption and where you can prioritize flexible course strategies. Watch this CfT screencast to see how to use the matrix (course activity matrix shared with permission from Carleton College’s Learning and Teaching Center). Use the full course activity matrix or a blank template to strategize your courses’ flexible components. Note: we apologize that the screencast captioning is content-accurate but has uneditable grammatical errors due to platform bugs.
Make simple course sites the norm. Students need clear, simple paths to find information…and after 18 months of largely online learning, many students may expect course sites to be the definitive information source (even beyond the course syllabus).
Need a Canvas refresh? Check out how our colleagues have used Canvas features to create unique and engaging course sites. Choose ONE idea to update your course site that will promote navigation or engagement.
Community and Connection
Collaborative assignments and projects are a high impact practice because they promote the exchange of ideas and require working together to solve problems (Kuh, 2008). Ensure their flexibility by creating intentional asynchronous group spaces and facilitating group norms.
With continuing uncertainties and anxiety, a bit of playfulness can draw a class together. If you need ideas, take a look at this past January’s Playful Engagement workshop and its related resources–these ideas adapt across in-person and online environments.
Feedback and Assessment
Use flexible feedback options to extend conversations with students. If you are not sure which options are best for your assignment, this guide suggests strategies and different online tool options. Canvas SpeedGrader offers written, video, and audio feedback options and now allows you to save written comments (not just comments in the rubric function).
Here are some flexible assessment ideas–although specifically used in synchronous online classes, they can be adapted for in-person and online course designs.
Help reduce anxiety about assignments by designing transparent assessments. This checklist can help you evaluate the transparency of an assignment’s purpose, task, and criteria for success. Transparency is especially important if an assignment is not as flexible as others in your course.