Important considerations for summer course design

This message to all faculty and staff has been approved by Dr. Sally McRorie, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Dear Colleagues,

I could not be prouder of how well and how quickly our faculty transitioned to remote teaching. I congratulate you for rising to the challenge! As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, the challenge of offering courses online continues, at least for the first summer sessions.

If you plan to teach this summer, I strongly encourage you to incorporate as many asynchronous components in your teaching as you are able (whenever possible, not requiring students to be online for a set meeting time) to allow more flexibility for your remote learners. There are several good reasons for this approach.

As I’m sure many of you have already experienced, internet connectivity can be unstable depending upon time of day and location. Keeping to scheduled class times may be difficult, if not impossible, for many of our students due to the competing demands of caregiver responsibilities, living in different time zones, and possibly contending with illness. Incorporating more asynchronous teaching methods maximizes access and flexibility at a time when our students need it most. You can make use of synchronous class times to promote discussion and group activities. Some instructors find that pre-recording lecture material in Kaltura, for example, then using Zoom to hold synchronous office hours or review/study sessions, can provide the direct contact that supports engagement. These real-time interactions are an important component of quality online instruction and help keep students connected during the season of remote learning.

If you are planning to teach this summer, I urge you to incorporate asynchronous elements and reach out to the Office of Distance Learning or the Center for the Advancement of Teaching for resources and assistance.

  • Office of Distance Learning (ODL): ODL provides guidance to faculty designing online courses. They can help you make your course more resilient, address the time and distance challenges of your students, and incorporate strategies to engage your students and increase the quality of your remote teaching. Workshops familiarize faculty with quality course design and online pedagogy. For more information, contact ODL at (850) 644-4635 or
  • Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT): CAT helps faculty use research on learning to enhance their teaching, supporting faculty as they design student-centered, inclusive courses. Services include one-on-one consultations; general and customized workshops; course design seminars; faculty reading groups; mid-semester feedback sessions; and more. For more information, contact Director Leslie Richardson at or

Best wishes and stay well!

Sally McRorie
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs