Preparing Your Summer 2021 Course

If you are teaching this summer, there’s a lot to plan for! Adapting to the pandemic, teaching part or all of your course online and shorter summer sessions all conspire to impact your teaching. We’ve gathered some helpful guidelines from experiences last summer, student surveys and published reports across higher education. Jump to the section that will benefit you.

Start with Course Design

If the course is new or new to you, follow our guide for course design on Learning Innovation’s Flexible Teaching site. This guide will take you step-by-step through designing your course to create achievable and aligned learning objectives, assessments and course activities. Use this alignment to pare down your course content if needed.

If you are teaching a high-demand course, check out the UNC Course Enhancement Collection, a curated collection of quality learning materials and assessments mapped to learning objectives.

Review your course to focus on the learning objectives to help you cut down on less critical material and to ensure your activities and assessments align with your learning objectives.  

Ensure that your course design and all materials are accessible.

Make your course inclusive. Use this worksheet, review this inclusive practices toolkit and consider antiracist and decolonized teaching strategies.

Build on previous successes and use teaching strategies that have worked.  

^Return to Top

Make connections and create community

Deliberately build community among your students. Provide multiple opportunities for students to engage with each other — use both informal activities at the beginning of class to promote community, and use active learning techniques to encourage students to practice with the course content and receive feedback. 

Start each class meeting with a low stress activity to welcome students, like asking students to answer a fun, low stress question in chat, BuzzFeed quizzes or using an online friendly warmup

Take the time to connect with your students

Use student groups for course work.

Provide ways for students to connect with each other to form study groups outside of class meetings. 

Consider using asynchronous discussion tools such as Sakai forums to encourage communication among and between class members, instructors and TAs. 

^Return to Top

Consider your students

Communicate clearly and often; adopt a predictable schedule of communication. You can use Announcements in Sakai each week to outline the week’s activities and due dates so that students can see the outline in both the course site and in their email. Assume that students do not check the syllabus. 

Use your scheduled time wisely. Students can learn basic content before a class meeting from websites, books and videos. Use synchronous time to deepen learning, to connect with each other and to explore concepts and to build on them. 

Assure all students that they can succeed by using inclusive teaching practices.

Use discussion forums to make learning visible and encourage students to apply concepts

Provide office hours that are accessible to all students regardless of time zone. Encourage students to meet with you at office hours, even if they don’t have questions.

Create a simple, well-organized course website; remove unneeded menu items and content.

^Return to Top

Reconsider assessments 

Use frequent, low stakes assessments to provide feedback to you and your students on their learning. Consider a forgiving grading policy by dropping the lowest grades or providing feedback, not grades, on some assessments.

Consider lowering stress on assessments by allowing students to use their notes and being very clear on when students are permitted to collaborate and when they are not. Give a practice exam to allow students to prepare.

Grade consistently using pre-created rubrics based on course objectives, which are shared with students ahead of time; don’t use grading curves. 

Be flexible with due dates and grading. 

Break large assignments such as papers or projects into smaller parts; provide timely feedback on each to encourage learning as students develop their assignment. 

Provide more than one way for students to succeed in your course; examples include dropping the lowest grades on some assignments or allowing students to choose how they demonstrate they’ve mastered the learning objectives, perhaps by choosing the form of their final project.

^Return to Top

Email us to arrange to talk about how to make your course work!