Center for Teaching and Learning

Preparing for autumn quarter 2021

As we return to in-person instruction this fall, we have the opportunity to leverage aspects of what we have learned about remote instruction to give our students an exceptional learning experience. Decisions regarding instruction for autumn 2021 will be guided by our shared values of access and excellence as well as the expectation of reasonable faculty workloads. The governor’s recommendations for higher education, expected at the end of June, will guide our operational and policy decisions, which will be communicated in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, below are pedagogical suggestions for instructors who are beginning to plan for autumn quarter. Developed by the Tri-Campus Digital Learning Alliance, this guide incorporates input from other instructional support groups, faculty and academic leadership.


As we work towards a return to in-person instruction in the fall, keeping in mind the rights and responsibilities of faculty and students is imperative:

  • Academic units are responsible for their instructional programs. What constitutes pedagogical excellence is determined by the practices and norms of each department, program, or school.
  • Students have a right to an excellent education, as well as the responsibility to participate in the course according to the standards set out in the course syllabi.
  • The University is responsible for supporting teaching and learning.

Although the challenges we will face in the fall remain unclear, the current course of pandemic health restrictions are expected to allow for instruction to be fully in-person, with a very small number of students needing to study remotely for specific reasons (e.g., personal health). Instructors are not expected to develop two versions of the same course. But please do consider how remote students might be supported in a course where the majority of students are in-person. Specific recommendations are below.

As there is no one-size-fits-all approach to course construction and delivery, we encourage instructors to check with your campus and school/college for the latest information on health and safety, and consult with your department chairs/deans for department-specific advice on course development, distance learning policies and classroom safety guidelines.


The following offers guidance on developing flexible, learner-centered courses for autumn quarter that:

  • Build on familiar techniques, technologies, and the experience gained over the last year;
  • Maintain instructional continuity for students in case barriers to in-person instruction occur; and
  • Address access and equity for all students.
  1. Consider ways to support students who need to participate remotely for part or all of autumn quarter. In addition to COVID-related issues, students may need to study remotely because of illness or other reasons. Consider how you can facilitate learning for these students, and be sure to include clear instructions regarding absences in the course syllabus and Canvas site. This approach also helps promote instructional continuity should we need to temporarily shift to remote teaching during the quarter.
  2. Design the course with accessibility in mind. Refer to the UW Accessible Technology page to get started.
  3. Consider incorporating evidence-based pedagogies in your course that support both remote and in-person students. For example, consider “flipping” part or all of your course by presenting course content outside of scheduled class time through lecture videos, readings, and materials that students can access independently. In-person class sessions can then focus on helping students apply concepts and engage the subject matter. This approach makes it easier to plan learning experiences for in-person and remote learners that are similar without preparing two separate versions of your course.
  4. For critical in-person exercises, activities, and assessments, determine how a remote student can still meet the course learning goals:
    • Post digital versions of course materials shared during in-person sessions before — or soon after — the session.
    • Create opportunities for remote students to explore course concepts, discuss questions, and receive feedback with their classmates, such as discussion boards or group assignments.
    • Record class sessions (where appropriate), and make them available online (i.e., lecture capture using available Panopto or other technologies).
    • Hold optional online student office hours or review sessions, or use a mixture of in-person and online modalities.
    • Avoid conducting live active-learning activities or discussions simultaneously with both in-person and online students, unless you have been trained in this approach and have appropriate support in place. Referred to as “hybrid-flexible,” “hyflex” or “blended synchronous,” this approach is complicated, requiring extensive instructor preparation, staff support, advanced classroom technology that isn’t available in all classrooms, and trained TAs for each class session.
    • Information on assessment strategies is available at

For additional suggestions, visit the guide to planning your course for best practices regarding remote teaching.