Course Design Tips for Your J-Term or Summer Course

This service is for faculty and staff.

This article will help guide faculty in the design of courses offered in shorter term lengths such as J-term and summer.

Tips for Designing Your J-Term or Summer Course

Designing a J-term or summer course that is condensed into fewer weeks brings special challenges, especially if the course is offered in a fully online, blended or flexible format. Below are course design tips that will enhance your ability to efficiently facilitate a condensed course and improve the student experience.

Group work

  • Group work is tricky with condensed classes. Consider the following:
    • use synchronous sessions for group work
    • give very clear instructions on any group assignments
    • if it's an asynchronous class, give adequate time for students to meet to complete projects and have groups submit drafts/segments so you can help keep them on track
    • honestly: avoid group work if possible, or only do one group assignment

Grading and projects

  • Consider due dates and whether students need your feedback in order to continue with an assignment or take the next step in the course
  • Typically, due dates are 1-2 times per week. What is the faculty's capacity to turn around assignments so students can make use of feedback?


  • Resist the urge to put a ton of readings and videos into the class
  • Consider an auto-graded quiz in the first few days (for attendance and to catch anyone who hasn't already logged in to the class)

Student support and class facilitation

  • Plan to respond to emails within 24 hours
  • A Q&A discussion board is highly recommended
  • Module 0: add something interactive so you can see right away who hasn't logged in to the class. There's no time to waste in these condensed classes
  • Be very active in the first 3-4 days and through the first major assignment. If students get behind, it's really hard to catch up 
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Article ID: 139000
Wed 10/27/21 3:05 PM
Thu 10/13/22 1:19 PM

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