Intersession & Summer Online Considerations

OISE staff and faculty have demonstrated so many incredible and thoughtful contributions during this transition to online teaching and learning.

We acknowledge that this is not an easy transition. There are a number of considerations and a range of questions arising for us all as we begin to think about our courses, our teaching, and our own learning in new ways.

These considerations and questions may seem to multiply with each stage and dimension of course planning and design.

Luckily we have expertise within our faculty and the support of Clare and the team behind this Teaching and Learning Online website which offers individualized support.

On this page, our faculty experts in online teaching and learning have helped us to assemble some helpful considerations and general guidelines to support you as you prepare to teach your courses online during the intersession and summer periods.

More ideas and supports are available on this site, and also we will update our group with some of your resources as you share.

Let’s enjoy the journey together!

Syllabus & Planning

a book and a laptop

Course Outline Template

OISE has revised the course outline template to address considerations related to COVID-19. We have input information specific to the MT program. Please use this as your base template.

We have also included some additional suggestions or recommendations for how you might further develop your syllabus in our current context. 

Course Outline Template (COVID-19 Revised)


All of us enter the world of online teaching with differing levels of experience and knowledge. Some of us may have taught very successfully in a completely asynchronous environment. The decision-making around when and how to include synchronous learning experiences will vary course by course and by instructor; from a brief synchronous opening time in the first and final classes (to support social presence, class community and teacher presence), to more regular synchronous portions of classes for modelling and interaction, possibly in a curriculum course.

Synchronous Time Online

Synchronous time, when students log in at the same time to  contribute to a task or conversation,  can contribute to accomplishing important objectives:

Maintaining social presence and sense of learning community.

Clarifying activities/expectations for the week (as teacher presence helps keep students on track).

A way to check in: based on the research and expertise of our colleagues, we ask that you include a synchronous opportunity at the beginning of the course, possibly in collaboration with the person who is teaching the same cohort, one at the midpoint and one at the end of the course for synthesis.

This element is particularly valuable for checking in with students and an opportunity for sharing their situation and concerns—many may be anxious about the switch to online, which adds to their overall stress. At this particular period of time, community and connection seem even more important.

This session: include a synchronous element.

We also ask that you consider that synchronous learning requires access to reliable internet, a device and a relatively quiet learning environment. We realize that many of our candidates are in shared living arrangements with multiple responsibilities and may be ‘competing’ for bandwidth and uninterrupted time.

Note: holding full 3 hour synchronous classes is not encouraged.

Please hold any synchronous portions the 9-12 and 1 – 4 time slots on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

As you are planning, guard against a need to “fill’ the time or replicate f2f experiences. Instead, it is recommended that you think in terms of hours of work and consider a similar workload of 3 hours of class with 1-2 hours of preparation and follow-up each week, recognizing that assignments will require additional time.

Workload considerations

In your workload considerations it may be helpful to keep in mind:  online learning can increase time and attention needed from the learner by a factor of 4.

For example, if candidates are creating online responses, consider the time needed both for reading as well as writing responses in online discussion threads.

If you want to have a chat about structuring your course in a simple and clear way, please get in touch with our Teaching and Learning Support team. Contact Us


Instructional And Assessment Planning Considerations – just the beginning…

Asynchronous discussions

If you are planning to have asynchronous class discussions, we suggest you have students working in smaller groups to limit the demands on time to keep up with reading notes.

Groups can be slightly larger than what we might consider for face to face groups, but somewhere in the range of 6 to 8 people would probably be ideal depending on the nature of the task.

Group presentations

If you would like to include group presentations as assignments, there are some important things to consider in their design. Students can collaborate to prepare the physical presentation (e.g., co-creation of slides).

In order to “deliver” the presentation, they could do one of two things:

1) students could present synchronously via something like Zoom (you can adjust settings to allow students to share their screens); or

2) the students might present as a pre-recorded video using a tool that supports collaborative video editing (Adobe Spark is a fairly simple tool to use…but the co-editing requires a laptop or desktop).  

Other options might be to collaborate on the creation of the slides but then agree that one person will do the final audio recording and uploading (which can be done using something like Powerpoint or a screen capture software).

Another way is that  they can use something like Zoom to open a meeting, they all join and one person records the session and uploads on behalf of the group.

There are of course constraints on what a student can deliver in an online presentation, but there are ways to make it interactive either synchronously or asynchronously  (probably easier to do if it’s synchronous).

Considering the number of presentations and the duration of each will increase the amount of time students need to be online at the same time. This could be mitigated by say having all students present to the instructor, but only presenting to a small group of peers (so students are maybe only expected to be present for their own presentation and one other group).

Table of Contents

Scheduling: Frequent feedback, chunking and more


It is important that students have a clear sense of specific dates and time periods for when synchronous segments of classes will be held.

For the synchronous times, please designate dates and times within the T/Th 9-12 and 1-4 time slots.

Chunking by week

Instructors may want to consider a weekly plan for their courses (rather than class by class planning) to allow students some flexibility to complete tasks according to times that work for their particular needs. Again, it may be more helpful to think in terms of course hours (e.g. deciding how to spend 6 class hours, plus prep time).

Early frequent student feedback

Given we are all learning and adjusting as we go, we recommend that in your scope and sequence you designate time around the 4th class (in week 2) for student feedback in order to adapt as everyone continues to learn together how to best support online teaching and learning.

Technical requirements

Students will need to know what devices and applications they will be using and if the course requires a high level of internet bandwidth for the course, as well as what will be necessary for specific classes.

Online procedures

We cannot assume our students will know what is expected of them in their role as online students, so we should anticipate that they will need some explicit supports around online learning norms (e.g., how to ask the instructor a question, how to take turns, etc.). You may want to outline some of this on the course syllabus and in other places.

Redundancies are key

We suggest that instructors put links to key course information in multiple places (e.g. multiple pointers to it in Pepper), to ensure that students are more likely to be able to find it.

Communication with your cohort “Teaching Partner”

We encourage you to work with your ‘partner’ for the day (those teaching opposite to you in 9-12 or 1-4 time slots) in order to balance learning experiences of the cohort. This will give a broader picture as to what the students will be being asked to do (workload, opportunities to connect to work being done in other courses) and how much time they are being expected to be online on any given day/week. You might avoid two long synchronous learning experiences on the same day.

Depending upon the learning activities and tasks, you may wish to consider coordinating synchronous times. For example, even though you may be teaching in the 1-4 time slot, you could work with your teaching partner to agree to co-meet with the class for some time on Tuesday mornings in order to minimize the number of times students and instructors need to be online at the same time on the same day.


 Recording synchronous sessions

There are definite learning advantages to having a record as a resource for students but there are also privacy concerns to consider. Instructors may opt to record synchronous online class meetings in order to provide it as a class resource. In those cases, the instructor should clearly indicate that the session will be recorded at the start of the class meeting. Students may opt to turn off their video feed for recordings if they prefer not to have their video captured in the recording. Instructors should ensure that shared access to class recordings are password protected (e.g. by uploading them to UofT’s MyMedia, which requires UTORid authentication).

Helpful Links

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