Teaching & Learning Tips

A collection of tips and tools designed to aid in transitioning instruction online.

Converting a Course to a Four-Week Format

Sep 03, 2020
Are you considering converting a course to a four-week format? Winter Session offers students an opportunity to complete an online course at U of I in slightly less than four weeks. While there are similarities with the four-week Summer Term 1, Winter Session is even more compressed, owing to the intervening holidays. Departments and instructors should take special care and consideration in adapting existing online courses to a highly compressed Winter Session format. CITL offers the following suggestions for both instructors and students to consider when thinking about Winter Session course offerings.

  • Content should be able to fit into 4 weeks—3.5, technically. Can the content be condensed in 4 weeklong modules?
  • Assuming that your course is in a 16-week format, you need to cover 4 weeks of content in one week of Winter Session (i.e., Weeks 1-4 of the 16-week course become Week 1 of Winter Session).

  • Frequent deadlines and multiple milestones for assignments will be more difficult for students in a highly compressed, 4-week course than an 8-week or 16-week course.
  • Consider the timing of assignments and feedback carefully. Will there be enough time to provide quality feedback and allow students to incorporate that into their future work, later drafts, etc.? Due dates, in most cases, should be no closer than 48 hours apart.
  • Be sure to include those assignments that meet the essential course goals and objectives for your Winter Session course.

  • Time management is crucial for highly compressed Winter Session courses for both students and instructors. Four weeks can go by quickly, deadlines are easy to miss, and turnaround time on grading can become challenging.
  • Clear deadlines for assignments are very important. Deadlines can be made available in multiple locations (Course Calendar, Module/Weekly Overview, Course Schedule, etc.) to ensure students don't miss deadlines.
  • Any changes to deadlines should be communicated as early as possible.

  • Group work in Winter Session may not give students sufficient time to build rapport with their classmates and create quality collaborative work.
  • If your original course includes a group project, you may want to consider redesigning it as an individual assignment or find an alternative assignment that measures the same course objectives.

  • Live sessions are not recommended for Winter Session courses. As the term spans many major holidays and also has students in a variety of environments, live sessions may be untenable for some given limitations on internet, technology availability, etc.
  • Instead of live sessions, utilize recorded lectures, discussion boards for discussions, and other asynchronous strategies.

  • Exams should have an availability window of at least 24 hours. As with live sessions, we cannot predict the technological or internet situations of all students, and therefore some students may need to take exams (especially proctored exams) at times outside of regular business hours.
  • As campus is closed for the majority of Winter Session, courses will not have the option to host an on-campus exam.

Due to the compressed timing and operating schedule of Winter Session, course support will operate differently than in Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.

Instructor Support

  • Instructors can submit support requests through the CITL Winter Session Support Request Form.
  • Limited availability 12/24 - 01/01; closed 12/24/2020 - 12/25/2020 and 12/31/2020 - 1/1/2021

Student Support

  • ATLAS will be closed on weekends and 12/24 - 01/01
  • Tech Services will be closed 12/24 - 01/01
  • From 12/24/2020 - 01/01/2021, students should contact their instructor directly for support.