Updated: January 11, 2021 at 11:26AM

Course Instruction

Making Courses Modular and Flexible 

In an effort to provide guidance for creating flexible and resilient courses resistant to potential disruption, the May 29th letter to the faculty suggested that faculty members restructure their semester-long courses into two distinctive periods of halves, with clearly articulated separate learning goals, assignments, and assessments for each. The aim of a modular design, that weights work across the course of the semester, is to ensure that our students are able to complete some of the learning outcomes within a course as intended in the event of a second disruption to instruction. It is not our intention to be prescriptive in matters of course design; the University recognizes that the wide variety of approaches to course design and student assessment may not align with this recommendation. it is proposed as one recommended student-centered strategy for instructional resilience. 

Notre Dame Learning, the Faculty Task Force on Instructional Continuity, and the Office of Information Technologies have authored a suite of resources, models, and guidelines to assist in your fall planning. These are published on the Resilient Teaching (formerly Insructional Continuity) website, which will be updated regularly with new programs, workshops, and training events for all instructors. To get started right now, instructors can consult Preparing a Fall Teaching Resilience Plan.

Dual Delivery of Courses

It is the University's goal to offer the rich educational experience characterized by in-person instruction, but we recognize that there may be students who must attend online because they are in isolation or in quarantine. In addition, faculty members may themselves be in isolation or quarantine. As a way to build flexibility and resiliency into classroom instruction, faculty members teaching classes this fall should prepare to deliver their courses with most students present in the classroom but some attending remotely. All classes should be recorded to allow students to review previously presented material and ensure we are ready to transition to remote delivery should it be necessary to do so at any time during the semester. The following University-wide support is available: 

  • ND Learning will offer a series of workshops, consultations, and readiness training programs throughout the summer specifically designed to help faculty members make their fall courses more resilient.
  • ND Learning is also working closely with OIT to ensure our classrooms and other teaching spaces have the appropriate technologies to support dual delivery of classes. 
  • Faculty members may contact ND Learning (learning@nd.edu or 574-631-9146) for further information regarding preparation and training for dual-mode delivery. You can also visit instructionalcontinuity.nd.edu.
  • More detailed guidance on summer readiness training and other instructional support programs will be forthcoming. 

Hybrid Instruction

Students come to Notre Dame to have the opportunity to learn from and interact with our wonderful faculty, which is why we have placed such an emphasis on face-to-face instruction during the fall semester. Due to the need for accommodations related to COVID-19, some of you will be teaching in a fully online format. Others have indicated a preference for a fully face-to-face format. The Office of the Provost has received a number of inquiries regarding the space that lies between the two. Faculty are asking for guidance on whether and to what extent they can incorporate hybrid approaches in courses.

The University has long relied on the creativity of our faculty to conceive positive learning environments, and long-deferred to faculty to design courses as they see fit subject to departmental and school needs and norms. Thus, questions about hybrid approaches should be resolved at the local (department, school) level. The Office of the Provost does not plan on issuing “rules” on hybrid approaches. Faculty are asked to remember the importance students place on interacting with faculty and that you leverage technology in ways that give you better opportunity to connect with students.

Classroom Technology Enhancements

The Office of Information Technologies is installing enhanced technologies to support interactive learning by remote students, including adding cameras and ambient microphones to classrooms. These technologies will allow students joining the class remotely to hear, see, and interact with the instructor through Zoom. In some rooms, additional microphones will facilitate in-room and remote student discussion and interaction. 

OIT also is building a demonstration classroom in DeBartolo Hall. Beginning the week of July 6, OIT and ND Learning will be offering demonstrations of the technology using this demonstration classroom.

Video: Preview the dual-mode classroom technology.

Additional information regarding resources available to help faculty members prepare for the fall semester are available on the newly updated Resilient Teaching (formerly Insructional Continuity) website.

Classroom Assignments

The Office of the Registrar has published course schedules and classroom assignments for the fall semester. The new schedules are available at InsideND via Class Search. Several non-traditional spaces and auditoriums have been converted for use as classrooms and can accommodate physical distancing and other health and safety protocols.

If you have questions about your new classroom assignment or meeting time, contact your dean’s designee for scheduling matters.

Note: Classroom assignments are not yet final. Adjustments will be made as we learn which faculty members will be teaching online during the fall semester.

Revised Class Times


Passing Period and Length of Teaching Day

In order to ensure that students and faculty can enter and exit classrooms in ways that minimize exposure, and to accommodate a staggered dismissal, the University is adding an extra five minutes between classes. The registrar has already incorporated this increase in the passing period into the weekly schedule. In addition, in order to accommodate needs related to the configuration of instructional spaces, we have added a teaching slot at the end of the day. We will provide updates on any changes to your scheduled class times as soon as possible. It is asked that deans, department chairs, and the registrar are sensitive to family responsibilities in selecting teaching times for departmental courses. We are committed to ensuring that decision-making at Notre Dame – around COVID-19 and more broadly – is family-friendly. The standard class times that will be in effect for the fall 2020 semester can be found on the Office of the Registrar's website.

Departmental Exams Time Shift

The time and space normally used for departmental exams on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m., and Wednesdays at 8 p.m will be repurposed to accommodate physical distancing requirements for fall classes.  

Concerns About In-Person Instruction 

The University is committed to taking every reasonable step to create a safe and healthy environment as the campus is reopened. To do so, specific changes will be made to make our classrooms and workplaces as safe as possible. Individual circumstances, including age and certain underlying health conditions, can increase the risk that, if acquired, the course of the virus can be more severe. Therefore, in addition to all the protocols and changes already described, the University is implementing, for the fall 2020 semester, a streamlined process for responding to individual requests for further accommodations related to COVID-19 based on personal circumstances.

The full policy for faculty and staff accommodations requests can be found on the Faculty and Staff Accommodations page.

The full policy for student accommodations can be found on the Student Accommodations page.