Getting Started: Strategies & Design
On this page you'll find resources for course design and delivery this fall semester, including strategies for flexible instruction, course design principles, modes of delivery, organization and templates, and student engagement.
The flexible instructional strategies chart includes starting points, suggestions, and examples for teaching this fall semester with lectures, discussion, flipped classes, and applied learning.
Continuity of Learning
Students may need to quarantine or miss in-person activities for a period of time this fall. This quick guide offers strategies and starting points for ensuring that these students can continue to engage in coursework if they are well enough.
Considerations for Course Design & Planning
Modes of Delivery
This fall semester will involve a range of delivery modes, from fully online learning to in-person courses that rotate attendance among groups of students in a class. One of the first critical decisions about a course design is this mode of delivery: whether it will be a simulcast lecture or flipped class with rotating attendance, a modified hybrid model, or fully online/remote. Even further, all of these options can involve any mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities. See below for resources on making the right choice for you, your students, and your courses.
Canvas Templates & Course Organization
"Besides teaching content and skills in our disciplines, our role is to help students learn. Without structure in any situation, we leave it up to chance whether our goals are accomplished. More structure means more students will engage and learn from us and their peers. In our experience, all students appreciate and thrive from additional structure, and some benefit disproportionately." (Adapted from Viji Sathy and Kelly Hogan, “Want to Reach All of Your Students? Here’s How to Make Your Teaching More Inclusive”)
When building out your courses in Canvas, you don't have to start from scratch! We have developed flexible, user-friendly course templates for the following term lengths. You can preview an example of each template in Canvas, and download it for your own use.
- 4 week term | preview | download
- 6 week term | preview | download
- 8 week term | preview | download
- 12 week term | preview | download
- 16 week term | preview | download
Keep in mind that you have to download the template if you want to use it in your own Canvas course. (This may not seem the most intuitive process at first, so bear with us.) You can download this one-page guide to installing templates, or follow the instructions below.
- In the Canvas shell for your course, click on "Settings" in the left-side menu.
- On the right-side menu of the settings page, click on "Import Course Content."
- Using the import content drop-down menu, select "Canvas Course Export Package."
- Click "Choose File" and find the "imscc" template file that you downloaded above.
- In the "Content" menu, select "All Content" to migrate the entire template into your Canvas shell.
- Click the blue "Import" button to bring the template into your course. Now you're cooking!
Organizing the Course
A well structured online course helps students navigate the digital classroom without confusion, frustration, or anxiousness. It allows them to use their energy to focus on what really matters for the learning goals. For more insights, see the following workshop on course organization and interview on using modules from our Week of Teaching Symposium.
Flexible Instructional Strategies
The Flexible Instructional Strategies charts include starting points, suggestions, and examples for instructors to adapt to the needs of courses and disciplines with an eye to the meaningful pedagogical practices that buttress our culture of innovative and excellent teaching. Conversations at the college and department level will be critical in determining the best options for delivery, and courses likely will use several modes of instruction in a semester.
- Indicate in the syllabus what technologies and platforms students will need to have access to to participate in the course. For example, will the course use Canvas, Zoom, and the Google Suite? Listing this information at the outset of the course will allow students to plan ahead, anticipate any challenges, and feel more comfortable with the technical aspects of the course.
- Keep devices and software up to date. Install all updates for your devices and programs, especially for what you use when teaching (e.g., web browsers). Work with your department or college IT support to identify needs and follow through with updates. You also can convey this to students to avoid issues on their end. In many cases, updating the hardware or software resolves errors and other technical problems.
- Consider alternate forms of content delivery and learning activities. Students have encountered issues with bandwidth, Internet access, device functionality, and living conditions in the transition to remote learning. It's good for everyone to have a backup plan for how students can engage with the content or activities in ways that are equitable and keep them on track. Returning to the course goals can be helpful for thinking creatively about how students can encounter, explore, and express knowledge.
- Simpler, more familiar technologies allow students (and instructors) to focus on what matters. It's helpful to consider the balance between the benefits of using a particular technology or platform and the potential for confusion and access or functionality issues. Good online teaching is less about the complexity of technology, and more about a thoughtful course design with ample opportunities for interaction, engagement, and feedback.
- That said, if a more complex or unfamiliar technology is appropriate, give it a few test runs and provide clear instructions for students. We would be happy to assist with testing out platforms and apps and identifying the best way that you might develop instructions for students. This might involve text with screenshots, a first-person video walkthrough, or linking out to content that has already been made (e.g., the software's tutorials or FAQ section, videos on YouTube).
- Take advantage of cloud storage for file management and collaborative learning. UK has institutional access to Microsoft Office365 (O365) and the Google Suite for file storage, management, and collaborative learning via apps such as Word & Docs, PowerPoint & Slides, Forms, etc. OneDrive provides helpful and secure cloud storage or backup for documents and more. Save backups for all important files and other assets for teaching.
- Take advantage of UK’s Yuja video hosting platform. Video management can quickly become unwieldy in personal hosting spaces such as Google Drive, OneDrive, and YouTube. UK has institutional access to YuJa, a video recording and hosting platform that auto-captions uploaded videos and allows for human correction afterwards. Using a single, institutional platform makes it easy to find and manage all media assets for your courses.
- Respondus and ProctorU can be used for lockdown and auto-proctoring, but they're not a perfect solution. Students have encountered unresolvable technical issues, and others have had to pursue stressful and fatiguing troubleshooting processes to be able to take an exam. Some devices (e.g., Chromebook, mobile devices) cannot run Respondus or ProctorU, and others (e.g., iPad) present significant challenges for some of Respondus's functions (e.g., video monitor). All of this can result in an inequitable education for students, as well as assessments that gauge digital access and equipment more than learning. If an exam or quiz needs to be proctored, consider the degree of the proctoring needed (e.g., lockdown only, video monitor, check in procedures) and let students know well in advance. Provide at least one test quiz for students to run the proctoring software and work out technical issues. Consider expanding time limits for timed exams to allow students who encounter technical issues to complete the exam without added stress.
- Use secure channels if necessary. Those who will need to request VPN (virtual private network) access should familiarize themselves with the new request procedure. Log in to make the request. Assistance is available from the ITS Service Desk at (859) 218-HELP (4357).
Enroll in our Canvas Course
Join our Fall 2020 Canvas course for guides and resources on course design and delivery, student engagement and class community, teaching tools and technologies, activities and assessments, and more.