Instructors are advised to incorporate blended strategies into their in-person courses to address absences and support accessibility.
Online strategies can help instructors to:
- Increase access to course materials and assessments for students in cases where they are experiencing short term absences (e.g., due to illness)
- Provide options for continuity of instruction where the instructor is not able to attend a class on campus (e.g., due to illness)
- Enhance flexibility for students unable to attend class (e.g., International students, students with unexpected family responsibilities)
- Provide some certainty and security for students (and instructors) knowing that they will have continuity of access to course materials and their assessments
Increasing flexibility and accessibility in three steps
There are many ways to integrate elements into your in-person course and the most appropriate strategies for your course will vary depending on the course learning outcomes, context and content.
1 - Start with the context
Every class is different. Consider the unique course context and the participants (learners and instructors) when deciding how to address absences and support accessibility.
2 - Focus on essential course elements
Review course-level learning outcomes and identify those elements that are critical and essential. It’s important to focus directly on the essential outcomes and provide flexibility and accessibility to support students to achieve these outcomes.
3 - Evaluate options
Consider the different options for maximizing flexibility and accessibility, including lecture and content presentation, assessment, class discussions, and communication and community building.
Explore strategies by activity
Communication & Community Building
|Post a well-designed syllabus that clearly outlines expectations and accessibility options||Asynchronous|
|Weekly announcements and news updates||Asynchronous|
|Video introduction & course site orientation||Asynchronous||
|Virtual office hours||Synchronous|
|Q&A forum where peers and instructor can respond to questions||Asynchronous|
|Elicit student feedback through use of online white board||Synchronous|
|Elicit student feedback through Midcourse feedback survey||Asynchronous||
|Provide a “get to know you” survey at the start of term||Asynchronous|
|Community agreement forum||Synchronous|
Lecture & Content Presentation
These strategies can be used to create flexible ways for students to access in-person course materials and content, such as class lectures.
|Online lecture / class meeting / demonstration||Synchronous|
|Post a lecture recording / video demonstration / video tutorial||Asynchronous|
|Run in-class polls for active learning||Synchronous|
|Add polls to videos for active learning||Asynchronous|
|Post materials (readings, files, etc.)||Asynchronous|
|Post slidedeck/ PowerPoint in Brightspace||Asynchronous|
Assessments & Learning Activities
Consider what would be an effective strategy for any assessment components, to maintain their integrity, but also to support flexibility and student absences.
|Online timed exams and assessments||Synchronous|
|Online flexibility-timed exams and assessments||Asynchronous|
|Assignment, Essay, or take home exam
|Authentic and alternative forms of assessment (e.g., reflections, case studies, etc.)||
|Address common accommodation assessment requirements||Synchronous|
|Student presentation or demonstration (online in real time)||Synchronous|
|Student presentation or demonstration (recorded and posted)||Asynchronous|
|Facilitate a live discussion online||Synchronous|
|Post a discussion prompt and ask learners to respond before a designated date/time||Asynchronous|
|Assign students to small groups to discuss an issue in real time||Synchronous|
|Provide a discussion prompt and ask small groups to consider and respond before a designated date/time||Asynchronous|
Group Work & Collaboration
|Groups meet to collaborate during an online class||Synchronous|
|Groups meet and work together asynchronously||Asynchronous|
|Study groups/ learning pods||Synchronous|
|Group sign-up sheet||
Strategies will be different for courses that include an experiential learning component (ie. lab, studio work, practica) than for more content focused courses that could be delivered in flexible formats. Some experiential learning components are challenging to simulate in the online environment. If you would like to consult further about this contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, consider what would be an effective strategy for any assessment components, to maintain their integrity, but also to provide maximum flexibility should they need to be delivered online.
Synchronous and asynchronous formats
Depending on the learning outcomes, online activities can take place synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous activities need to occur during the regularly scheduled class time as per the timetable. Asynchronous activities provide students with flexible options to access the course (ie. different time zone) or to “catch up” in a course if they have been away for a period.
Below are some example “weeks” where the in-person delivery of a class is supplemented with synchronous and asynchronous online elements.
In this week, the in-person lecture is supplemented with online course activities that students complete independently or collaboratively.
|Mon||Lecture & class discussion (1 hr)|
|Tues||Asynchronous class activity/assessment (1 hr)|
|Wed||Synchronous discussion (1 hr)|
|Fri||Optional: office hour||Optional: office hour|
In this week, there is an in-person lecture complimented by an online discussion or activity.
|Mon||Lecture & class discussion (1.5 hr)|
|Wed||Synchronous activity discussion (1.5 hr)|
|Fri||Optional: office hour||Optional: office hour|