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Adopt a Framework for your Course

Adopt Your FrameworkWhether you are teaching a Blended, Online, or Hybrid Course, we recommend you adopt the following approach:

  1. Develop a robust online asynchronous course before the semester begins--including online lecture videos and online learning activities--that will serve as the backbone of your course, independently of whether your synchronous instruction takes place in-classroom or online. ("Asynchronous" means you are not necessarily online at the same time as your students; instead, you create online course activities that the students complete during a specified time period, usually within a 24-48 hour window).
  2. Plan now for how best to use time with students during synchronous class meetings, which--depending on who is able to physically be in the classroom and which classrooms are available--will take one of the following forms:
    • All Zoom
    • All In-Classroom
    • Some combination of In-Classroom/On-Zoom, where the frequency and type of each class meeting is determined by student availability and classroom capacity
Example Scenario #1: The course will be available to both in-classroom students and remote students.

Instructional Approach: Blended, Hybrid  ("Hybrid" means the students may attend class in-person or remotely.)
Description: All students work on the asynchronous online coursework. Then, based on classroom capacity and relative numbers of remote and on-campus students, the instructor determines a workable combination of 

  •  synchronous Zoom meeting with all students.
  •  synchronous Zoom meeting for remote students only.
  •  synchronous in-classroom meeting for in-classroom students only.
  •  (if classroom technology permits): hybrid instruction, where the instructor meets in-classroom with on-campus students while simultaneously teaching remote students via Zoom (note: This approach can work, but has the following challenges: We have a limited number of rooms that can accommodate this approach; it can be difficult for faculty, especially in larger classes, as it requires dividing attention between students who are in front of you and students who are remote; and, if not done well, remote student can have a poor experience.  If you are interested in learning more about this approach, please indicate your interest when you are asked by the Registrar or your chair for your instructional preferences for fall.)

Example, with a class that is scheduled to meet T/Th.


Asynchronous learning, online*

Students log into Course Site, complete readings, watch check-in video, watch lecture video(s) and complete online course activities.*

Synchronous learning

Instructor and students (or a subset of students) meet, at the scheduled class meeting time, either in-classroom or on Zoom.

Office Hours: Zoom or in-office

Asynchronous learning, online*

Students log into Course Site, complete readings, watch check-in video, watch lecture video(s) and complete online course activities.*

Synchronous learning

Instructor and students (or a subset of students) meet, at the scheduled class meeting time, either in-classroom or on Zoom.

Office Hours: Zoom or in-office

Instructor finalizes next week’s asynchronous work, offers feedback, and sends an announcement with updates.

*This asynchronous online part of the course should be available to students 1-2 days before scheduled class meeting time. Students should complete the work before the class meeting time, or earlier if the instructor wishes to review student work before class.   If you want to learn more about this approach, please review this guidance document.

Example Scenario #2: The course is mostly online, but the instructor is plans to host intermittent small group meetings with students.

Instructional Approach: Blended, Intermittently in-person.

Description: The majority of teaching and learning is asynchronous online and, in addition, students meet in small groups with the instructor. The instructor requests rooms for in-person meetings with those groups of students who are able to meet in-person, and creates an equitable number of Zoom meetings at a different time for remote students. 

Special Cases:
  • We believe the approach above will be suitable for 95% of our courses. The remaining 5% --labs, performances, studios--are more complex and will require special attention.  However, even for these courses, we recommend you follow the same course development strategies and have discussions with your department about how to manage these complex courses, whether to create some 'online only' sections and 'on-campus' only sections, how to manage class size given social distance requirements, etc.  Please submit an LTS Help ticket if you need additional support. 

The four requirements of this framework are:

  • all online work must be either in Course Site or linked to from Course Site (so students know where to go);
  • all synchronous class meetings must be held during your scheduled class meeting times, unless all students have agreed to a time change (for classes with students in remote timezones, we recommend you poll students to find an acceptable alternative meeting time; permit remote students to watch recordings of the synchronous class; or host a second section for remote students);
  • each week should contain multiple opportunities for interactivity and active learning elements (i.e., opportunities for students to interact with the instructor, ask and respond to questions, receive feedback, etc.) during both the asynchronous and synchronous portions;
  • wherever possible, use Lehigh's recommended technology tools, as doing so reduces the number of tools students have to learn and improves support for student and faculty. (Faculty eager to innovate and try new tools are encouraged to do so, with the understanding that too many new tools can overwhelm students and LTS may not be able to provide support to you and your students for the technologies you choose.)


In sum, the framework recommends that you plan for each week to have some combination of the following:

  • recorded lecture videos (to deliver content, to instruct, to connect with students, and to develop teacher presence);
  • online asynchronous active learning opportunities;
  • synchronous class meetings (some combination of lecture, interactivity, and active learning) that, depending on circumstances, you conduct either in-classroom or on Zoom;
  • office hours, that, depending on circumstances, you conduct either in-classroom or on Zoom; and 
  • assessments that align with the learning outcomes of the course.


As the instructor, it is up to you to decide (unless these topics are typically decided at the department or program level):

  • The frequency, duration, and relative weight given to each of these elements (your answer will depend on your pedagogical preferences, course type, course learning outcomes, etc.)
  • Course learning outcomes;
  • The course content, lecture approach, types of active learning elements, and assessments that are most likely to move students toward meeting course learning outcomes;
  • Which instructional approaches are best done asynchronously and which are best done synchronously.


As you make those decisions, we recommend that you follow this 'backwards design' principle:

  • Keep the major learning outcomes for the course in mind (i.e., what knowledge and skills do you expect students to have gained when the course is over?).
  • Determine the major assessments for the course (which assignments, projects, or exams will allow your students to demonstrate that they have met these main course outcomes).
  • Then, begin determining what specific coursework you will ask students to do that will enable them to acquire the knowledge and develop the abilities that they will need to succeed in the major assessments you just identified. 
  • This Course Design Worksheet may be useful to you as you proceed.
  • The remainder of this site assumes you have at least provisionally identified course learning outcomes, the kinds of assessment you plan to use, and the type of coursework and learning activities you will ask your students to engage in.  As you proceed to build your online course, please revisit each of these in light of what you learn about strengths and weaknesses of online teaching and learning.


With this framework in hand, you can now begin take the next steps to develop the specific elements of your online course.

For a one-page graphical overview of this framework, see the CITL's "Recommended Pedagogy for Online Teaching"

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Need Help? If at any point in this process, you need help or additional guidance, contact the LTS Help Desk.
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