Online Syllabi Guide

The following are a set of considerations and questions when redesigning your syllabi during a disruption. This is an opportunity to work with constraints and be creative about how to engage your students in a space not traditionally used for teaching and learning in the arts. 


First, please keep in mind that a disruption to in-person instruction will likely prove challenging to faculty and students alike. It is helpful to acknowledge these unusual circumstances upfront, to listen to students’ concerns, and to amend expectations for the course, with the goal of finding ways for students to finish the work they have started and maximize the trajectory of their learning. 

As you update your syllabi, consider what you can do at the most basic level and then build from there. If it means that you can manage your class using email and having students submit files directly to you, then that is great. The goal is to limit the friction in both pedagogy and technology when there is a disruption. However, we strongly recommend that you still articulate a plan.


Self-Guided Approach
Is your approach to let students self guide? If so, thinking about the pacing of the class and what you expect from students each week for review. 

Standardized Time Approach
Is your approach standardized time, where there are clear checks-in meetings online via video, conference calls, or chats? Clearly set expectations for when and how you expect the meetings to happen. 

Communication Expectations
It is critical that you state how soon you will respond to student questions, such as within 1 hour, 12 hours, or 24 hours. Similarly, state how much time you are giving students to respond to your questions. For example, if you create an online chat, when do you want students to comment to others? This communication will establish expectations and boundaries between you and students for the cadence of the class. 

What technology will you use? Decide on which tool you will use, whether it’s Canvas or a combination of Microsoft Teams, email, or Box. There are many solutions out there. Remember to consider your own comfort level and balance that with what your class has to deliver. 

How will you require students to submit work? Will this work be text based, PDF files, image files of their work, or maybe even videos? The course level will also impact what is reasonable for the students to create. 

Reviews and Discussions
The critique and studio-based instruction are unique to our school. These instructional approaches pose challenges as you consider how you might support dialogue among students online. If it means just using a blog or a Google document, that is fine. However, please be specific and communicate the terms for interaction. Remember that online dialogue is also very time consuming because it requires a great deal of writing back and forth. 

Materials & Equipment
Think about the kinds of things you are asking students to make. Some types of work, like drawing, may be created away from campus, while others that require shops and equipment, and therefore may not be possible for students to create at home. How can you reimagine the creation of your assignment in the absence of materials and equipment?

Time Commitment
Online teaching and learning takes much more time, both for the instructor and the students. Think through how you would expect a studio critique to run if you had to spell it out. Online you will need to be more deliberate about how to run conversations as opposed to modeling them in person.