Spring 2021 Course Planning

CAT Support

Over the next few weeks, instructors, chairs, and department admins in the College will be working together to build their spring course schedules. The CAT has designed this website, along with the resources below, to provide additional support to these groups as they make important pedagogical decisions about the upcoming semester.

  • Course Schedule Builder

    The “Course Schedule Builder” is a Google Spreadsheet with pre-defined dropdown menus that automatically change colors to indicate whether a class session is in person, synchronous, or asynchronous. It was designed to help faculty brainstorm and communicate their plans with their administrative coordinators, but it could also help chairs as they work to build a balanced schedule within their departments. If you decide to use this tool and have suggestions for ways it could be improved, please reach out to Betsy Barre at barreea@wfu.edu.

    planner screenshot

    Download a Copy

  • Course Planning Open Forums

    If you would like to learn more about your options for the spring, you are invited to attend one of three open forums this week. Although you are welcome to attend any of these sessions, we will be focusing our conversations on specific kinds of meeting patterns at each session.

    Two-Day Schedules

    Date: Wednesday, September 30th
    Time: 3:30PM-5:00PM

    Register

    Three-Day Schedules

    Date: Thursday, October 1st
    Time: 11:00AM-12:30PM

    Register

    Special Cases

    Date: Friday, October 2nd
    Time: 2:00PM-3:30PM

    Register

  • 1:1 Consultations with the CAT

    As always, we welcome requests for 1:1 Consultations. We can help you think about your experience this fall and what that experience might suggest about how you should approach the spring.

    Schedule

Spring Modalities

Although there will be no changes to the four broad modalities the University adopted this fall, feedback from faculty and students has led the College to introduce some new procedures and constraints within those modalities.

  • In Person

     

    in person

     

    Class meetings take place on campus with the full enrollment during scheduled class times in an appropriately sized, socially-distanced classroom. This modality is not possible for classes with enrollments exceeding 30 students. These courses should be prepared for a pivot to online/remote learning at any point the university may need to suspend on campus operations.

  • Online

     

    online

     

    All instruction takes place online. This fall, the College did not distinguish between various kinds of online course structures. This has created challenges for both faculty and students, so the College is asking online instructors to commit to one of the following approaches for the spring:

    • Fully Synchronous

    All class meetings are synchronous online for the full class. Class meetings take place virtually during scheduled meeting times. No classroom is assigned. Listed schedule reflects the required, synchronous class meetings so as not to create schedule conflicts.

    • Mixed Online 

    Some, but not all, online class meetings are synchronous. If any class meetings are replaced with asynchronous online content, those will show as an asynchronous “meeting” in students’ schedules.

    • Fully Asynchronous

    All instruction is delivered virtually such that students can complete it on their own schedules. For a typical 3-credit hour class, this entails 35-45 hours of engaged learning. The College recommends limited use of fully asynchronous courses.

  • Blended

     

    blended

     

    Blended courses combine in person class meetings with online instruction. This fall, the College placed no limits on the combinations instructors could adopt. To provide more structure and predictability this spring, the College will be asking instructors teaching blended courses to commit to a fixed weekly schedule of in person, synchronous, and asynchronous engagement. Moreover, instructors teaching blended courses will be required to hold at least one in person meeting each week for each of their students.

    Although the above constraints place some limits on your pedagogical options, the College is also introducing a number of new options not possible in the fall. More specifically, it will now be possible to adopt blended modalities without rotating cohorts. Instructors are still free to adopt rotating cohorts (and may find it necessary to meet space constraints), but it will now be possible to adopt blended schedules that fall into one of two broad categories:

    • Blended with Whole Class Cohort

    Instructors meet with their entire class in person, but less often than they normally would. The rest of the instruction takes place online but, again, with the entire class participating.

    • Blended with Rotating Cohorts

    Instructors divide their class into two or three cohorts and meet with those cohorts in person on a rotating schedule. When students are not in person, they complete the remainder of their work online. Student feedback and the capabilities of Banner have led the College to adopt two new constraints for blended courses with rotating cohorts this spring: instructors will be unable to rotate cohorts within a single class period or to rotate in person cohorts of different sizes across the week.

    As with in person courses, instructors teaching blended courses must be prepared for a pivot to online/remote learning at any point the university may need to suspend on campus operations.

  • The Online Pathway

     

    online pathway

     

    In limited circumstances where there are no other online options for degree progression for remote students, the College allows a fully in person or blended course to add an “online pathway.” To resolve some challenges this pathway created in the fall, the College will be asking students to register for special online sections that are cross-listed with the original course.

    If your department already offers an online section of the required course, you should not attach an online pathway to in person or blended sections. If you might need an online pathway for a course, but are unsure how many remote students may need it, you have four options:

    • Create an open online section of your course from the start. This is a useful option for departments that have required courses with only one section, but where you know a significant portion of students will want to be online.
    • Create an online section of your course that is capped at 0 and only available with instructor permission. This is cumbersome, but it allows departments and faculty to have some control over when an online pathway needs to be offered. You could talk with the students to see if they really need the course, whether they could wait a semester, and/or whether there is another section that would be appropriate. This option would also allow you to cluster all the online students into a single online pathway to avoid the dreaded single student online.
    • Designate the course as in person or blended now, and add an online pathway section later in situations where it becomes clear it is necessary. This is not generally recommended because it requires students to be strong advocates for themselves, and will likely advantage those who know to ask. But it could work in majors/departments where you know all of the students and know that they are not intending to be online/remote at the moment.
    • Consider whether the course is really necessary, and whether it might be better for all parties to grant an exemption from the course requirement this semester. Remote students could take other online courses in the department to replace the requirement, or be released to take electives that are designed for online students.

    The most straightforward way to add an online pathway is to adopt a blended modality with rotating cohorts, and to designate one of those cohorts as online only. This option is the only option included in the diagrams below, but alternative arrangements are allowed when necessary. The goal is to ensure that the online pathway is a course intentionally designed for fully-online students and not simply a diminished version of the in person or blended course.

Scheduling Options: Standard Menu

The following meeting patterns are not comprehensive, but represent the most common options for those teaching two- or three-day a week courses. If you do not see your preferred meeting pattern represented, scroll down to the “Limited Menu” and/or set up a 1:1 Consultation with a member of the CAT Team to discuss your options.

Scheduling Options: Limited Menu

While not common enough to be included in the standard menu of options, the following meeting patterns are perfectly acceptable options within the constraints outlined above. As they are not common options, you should take care to clearly communicate your plan to the department administrator entering your course information into Banner.