Teaching Resources

Adjusting Your Syllabus During COVID-19

Resource Overview

How to adjust your syllabus during COVID-19.

You can view syllabus and health and safety protocols from the university here.

What elements of a syllabus might grow in importance during this teaching and learning situation? What questions might you want to make sure you have answered in your syllabus related to these elements? Consult the information below to learn more:

Traditional Syllabus Elements: New Prominence

Syllabus ElementComplexity InvolvedQuestions to Answer on the Syllabus
Class Location & Meeting TimeIn traditional face-to-face classes this element is obvious and uncomplicated. If you are teaching in a hyflex setting, where students may be joining class remotely or in person, or if you are teaching online, it's a stickier issue.How will you clearly communicate to students where and when classes will take place? If attending remotely, where will students go to find the link to join in?
Instructor and TA/AI Contact Information & Office HoursRemote students may be in various time zones, so make sure you know where students are and that office hours happen at times when students might reasonably be expected to join.When and how should students expect to meet with you? When will you be available, and in what ways (phone, Zoom, email, live office hours, etc.)?
Communication & Preferred Method of ContactIn an online course or a course with a larger digital footprint, students may be more likely to expect instructors to be available outside of normal working hours. Setting expectations early means students will know when to expect to hear from you and how. You may need to communicate with your class quickly during the course of the semester if you need to pivot rapidly (e.g. move class online because someone tested positive for Covid-19). It's a good idea to set expectations up front about how they should expect to hear from you in times of emergency.How should students expect to hear from you in an emergency? Where should they go for updates and announcements? How quickly (and when) can student expect a response to email or phone calls? What kinds of questions should be directed at AIs/TAs? What is your preferred method of contact with the students?
Required Texts, Materials, SuppliesIf your course is online or has a larger digital footprint than usual, you might find yourself assigning more multimedia texts (or texts viewed in digital form). Students may require instructions for how to access or borrow these materials. Shipping might be delayed or books may take awhile to get to students who are remote.How should students plan to access digital course content (readings, videos, audio recordings, images, links, etc.)? What should a student do if they are unable to purchase or borrow a text?
Guidelines for Attendance, Participation, and Late WorkCovid-19 obviously presents a challenge for establishing traditional attendance, participation, and late work policies. We will consider challenges and offer some suggestions on the next page of this module.What counts as "attendance" and "participation" in your course (if applicable, are these defined differently for in-person and remote learners)? Will these factor into students' final grades? If so, how so? What should students do if they or their loved ones get sick and they are unable to participate in class? What, if any, are the consequences for turning in late work?
Campus-Wide ResourcesStudents participating in your course remotely may feel further isolated from campus resources which have been established to support them in their learning. Students may not know how to contact these resources when they aren't physically on campus. They may not know about additional options available if they are seeking help.What resources from the Writing Center, Habif Health and Wellness, the Learning Center, Olin Library, the Office of International Students and Scholars, and Disability Resources are available to remote students?

Additional Considerations for Your Syllabus During Covid-19

Beyond traditional syllabus components, there are a few other key elements that you may wish to include in your syllabi for this fall, depending on your mode of instruction. Some of these will be more important for online courses than hyflex courses, or vice versa. There is something to be said for keeping your syllabus brief, but students may have additional questions along these lines. Even if you don’t put them in your syllabus, you might consider adding this information elsewhere in your Canvas course shell.

Syllabus ElementQuestions to Answer on the Syllabus
Online Discussion Ground RulesWhat rules are there for appropriate Zoom participation and discussion? What elements of netiquette should students follow in live sessions? If applicable, how will you and the students work together to create a set of community standards for discussions or interpersonal engagement? How will you demonstrate your commitment to civil, respectful, and supportive classroom dialogue?
Description of Your Teaching ModeIs your course hyflex, hybrid, or online? How do you define your mode of instruction (this is important because "hyflex" or "hybrid" could mean something different across courses)? How will students be expected to engage?
Technical Requirements & Support AvailableWhat kinds of technology and technology access will students need to participate successfully in this course? How will you expect students to use this technology? What additional EdTech tools will they need to learn? What additional accounts will they need to sign up for? (Are there costs involved?) Where should students go if they need tech support?
Course Website/Canvas Usage DescriptionHow will you use your course website or Canvas course shell? What will students do on your website or in your Canvas course shell? Where should they expect to find readings, assignment descriptions, discussion threads, etc.?
Synchronous Session DescriptionWhat will your live sessions look like? What modes of engagement are you likely to use? What will students need to be ready to do during the live session?
Description of Successful Online LearnersWhat are the characteristics of successful remote learners? What steps can students take to ensure that they make the most of their courses even if they have to participate remotely?

Have suggestions?

If you have suggestions of resources we might add to these pages, please contact us:

ctl@wustl.edu(314) 935-6810Mon - Fri, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.