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Overview of Flexible Design Step-by-step

Reflection, preparation, and experimentation will be key to adapting courses for flexible and online teaching. Many traditional assessments used in the classroom do not translate easily into an online environment. Rethinking assessments means re-examining what you are trying to accomplish with those big exams and projects, and considering alternative ways to reach the same goals. Likewise, some instructional activities can be more easily shifted between online and in-person contexts than others. The process of reimagining your core instructional activities is much easier if you stay centered on the skills and concepts you want students to acquire through those activiites, and how they will help students succeed on your assessments. 

This section provides a step-by-step process to guide this work and to help you adapt your course for flexible and online delivery. It follows a backward design model of first reviewing goals for student learning, then envisioning opportunities for students to demonstrate achievement of those goals, and finally creating learning experiences that will help students reach those goals. This process will help you adapt your course for any context, whether online, in person and physically distanced, or hybrid. Planning your course through this process will also help you build in ways to allow for student participation in the learning even if they are unable to attend class meetings, either temporarily (e.g., they have to self-isolate) or long-term (e.g., they have to go home to care for a family member), without feeling like you have to teach two separate courses. 

The sections that follow start with an introduction to the backward design process and then walk you through four steps. For each step, you will find information about how to get started, with resources for more in-depth information or assistance.

​Next... Overview of Backward Design.