Syllabus, Course Policies and Materials

If you only have a few students participating remotely on a short-term basis, you can set your expectations with them individually. If you are teaching a fully hybrid of HyFlex course with a significant portion of your students participating remotely, it is important to have clearly defined policies and expectations for how the in-person and online portions of the course are integrated.

Make course materials accessible and clear

Since you will be working with two distinct communities of students — in-person and online — in different locations, it’s important to make your syllabus as clear as possible and to make your course materials easy to navigate. Online students might not have the same opportunity to ask questions about an assignment or location of a reading and, because of the time demands of teaching a mixed mode course, you want to make the most efficient use of your time. 

Organize your Blackboard course to help the students see exactly what will be happening in each class session or module, what they need to do to prepare and the activities they need to complete. CITL has optional course templates that you can use as a starting point. You can also create an Item (in Original Course View) or a Document (in Ultra Course View) to outline all of the activities and due dates for that week.

If your course will include presentation material, make sure that recorded versions include captions and are linked in a consistent location in your course site, along with other materials for that week or unit. If you store your recordings in Kaltura, they will be automatically captioned. Although automatic captions are not 100% accurate and should be edited, it is quicker to edit than transcribe the entire recording.

Clear organization of your Blackboard course, regular and consistent communication with students and accessible materials can help not only your online students, but also save time and help clarify many logistical concerns for your in-person students.

Set course expectations

Since you will have students taking your course with two different modalities — in-person and online — be very clear in the syllabus about expectations for each group of students. How will the online students participate versus the in-person students, if that will differ? What time zone will be used for deadlines? How will you be communicating with the students? Generally, what will be the differences between the online and in-person experiences?

Think about overall time commitments

In-class activities and assignments that take remote students into account will require more time to coordinate and carry out than an in-person course. You may have to simplify or reduce activities or homework assignments to fit into the course timeframe, while still making sure you meet all the learning objectives of a specific unit or the course.

Consider student interactions and group work

Depending on the mix of online students participating in the course that can or cannot participate synchronously, you will need to clearly state how students will participate in class discussions or group work. If students are in different time zones, you may need to more directly form groups and structure for the groups to work together and schedule “check-ins” to talk with each group. If students are unable to participate in the live class sessions, you should concentrate more on opportunities for students to discuss and interact in forums or other asynchronous tools.

Identify available resources

Your course may include assignments or projects that take advantage of campus or local resources in DeKalb for research, experimentation or exploration. How can you modify the assignments to allow for students without access to these resources without taking away from your learning objectives? Are there ways to take advantage of the varying local resources (or online resources) available to the online students to share differing experiences and points of view?

Consider time zones

You may or may not know if your online students will be in a time zone where it will be difficult for them to participate in a live class session. If at all possible, survey your students to see what time zone the remote students will be using. 

Depending on the number of students in this situation, you may need to design your class to be mainly asynchronous or you might consider multiple live sessions for small group discussions or work and feedback with yourself or the course teaching assistants.

Plan for flexibility

Students working at a distance may run into more issues than their in-person colleagues. Internet connectivity may fail. They may have family or personal issues that interfere with their studies or work at a particular time. In your syllabus and your own course planning, think about alternative assignments, activities, and tests or flexible policies for deadlines to give your online cohort opportunities to fully participate and be successful in the course.

Creative Commons License

Flexible Teaching guides were developed by Duke Learning Innovation and adapted for NIU by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. They are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Choosing Tools

Find more tips for deciding which technology tools are right for your course

Guide to Course Delivery


Didn’t find what you were looking for? Need more information? Contact the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) with your feedback and questions about this resource.

Workshops & Support

CITL staff are available to answer your questions about Flexible Teaching. Give us a call or text 815-753-0595 or email for assistance. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our staff.

View CITL upcoming events to view available upcoming workshops offered or to register.

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