Compressed Delivery Guide

  /  Compressed Delivery Guide

Compressed Delivery Guide

Designing Your Compressed Course

Delivery Method

  • Choose the perfect balance between synchronous and asynchronous activities/sessions.
  • If your course is 6hrs/week, aim for 2 hours in-class (synchronous online) and 4 hours of asynchronous online activities.
  • Short, synchronous classes should focus on active learning/practical application of theory.

Content Decisions

  • Decide on “need to have” and “nice to have.”
  • Ensure all content aligns with course learning outcomes.
  • Eliminate the fluff to focus on the critical content needed to meet the outcomes.

Organize and Plan for the Term

  • The entire syllabus/course should be planned and ready to open in Moodle; no time for development when teaching the course.
  • Good organization is critical to any successful teaching experience, but it is particularly important when teaching in a compressed format.
  • Once a plan is developed, check your pace regularly against the course plan (value of planning the entire course) and check with students about the pace of the course.

Timing is Important

  • It is recommended that complex and important topics are dealt with as early as possible in the course. This allows students to spend the maximum amount of time studying and applying those key yet challenging topics.
  • Need all resources ready to go on the first day.
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Textbooks are helpful here since students can access it right away.

Assignment Structure

  • Deconstruct single longer assignments into frequent shorter assignments (scaffolding).
  • Schedule the first assignment early in the course in order to have students start immediately and require an assignment outline early in the course that is counted as part of the grade early and more frequent assignments provide important feedback that encourages students to keep up with the course work.
  • Schedule longer assignments and more complex readings over longer breaks in the week.

Maintain Expectations and Standards

  • Be clear with students that expectations and standards will not be lowered in courses taught in compressed formats.
  • Set clear expectations with students early on in the course.

Maximize Supports to Students

  • Make yourself more readily available to students in compressed deliveries.
  • Plan to arrive early to class (Zoom) and stay later; communicate with students that you will arrive 15 minutes before class and remain 30 minutes after class to answer questions, etc…
  • Provide students with readings that students MUST read and additional support materials that are optional.
  • Provide students with slide decks, audio/video lectures, handouts in the Moodle shell.
  • Provide students with contact information for College supports (The Learning Centre, The Glenn Crombie Centre, The Learning Commons, Academic Success Advisors, other important resources, etc.)

Delivering Your Compressed Course

Tools for Delivery Online

  • Keep it simple; use only one or two tools beyond the LMS (Moodle).
  • Ideally, the same tools should be used across the program cohort so students don’t need to learn a variety of tools from different instructors in 7 weeks.

Building Community in the Course

  • Do a meet and greet with students to help build community and engagement (1st week); continue building engagement and collaborative activities during the semester.

Challenges to Consider

Group work is challenging, but not impossible.

  • Need to build rapport with students.
  • Set expectations early.
  • Assign students roles.
  • Be clear about what students are doing in the group work.
  • Allow students time to work collaboratively during synchronous sessions.

Concerns with the workload for our students.

  • Move more content into the asynchronous format to allow students to access materials on their own time and as frequently as needed.

Students didn’t like to participate/talk during synchronous sessions (whole group) but would use the chat feature in Zoom.

  • Break students into breakout rooms, assign tasks and a method for reporting back.
  • Students will feel more comfortable sharing in whole group discussions if they have had time to get to know their peers in the course; find ways to have students get to know one another.

Attendance dropped a few weeks into the course.

  • Survey students to find out why; use that feedback to adjust your course design or delivery.

Challenge with due dates.

  • Little flexibility for students facing challenges; 7 weeks doesn’t allow for much flexibility in extending due dates and providing extra time when needed.

Additional Suggestions from Faculty

  • Need consistent messaging across all courses with the same cohort of students about how much time will be spent on synchronous and asynchronous activities.
  • A low-stakes assessment should be done the first week with feedback provided quickly to students.
  • Coordinate assessments, dates, and requirements across all courses in the same semester with the same cohort of students to alleviate assessment-heavy weeks.
  • Integrated simulations work well to show students exactly what to expect.
  • Give students trust to do asynchronous activities.
  • Assessments, where students were allowed to choose their submission format, works well.
  • Recorded videos of students working through a scenario are helpful.
  • Building rapport with students and between students is important.
  • Use the same case study across all courses in a semester so students don’t need to learn a new case study for each learning activity/lesson.
  • Some instructors coordinated due dates for cohorts to space out due date days and maintain some consistency for students:
  • Faculty Member A – all assessments are due Mondays at 5pm
  • Faculty Member B – all assessments are due Wednesdays at 5pm
  • Faculty Member C – all assessments are due Fridays at 5pm


Designing Accelerated Courses. (n.d.) Rochester Institute of Technology: Teaching and Learning Services. Retrieved from

Dwinnells, S. (2014). How do I teach a compressed online course? The Teaching Professor. Retrieved from

Kops, B. (2009). Best practices: teaching in summer session. Summer Academe, 47.

McDonald, P. L., Harwood, K. J., Butler, J. T., Schlumpf, K. S., Eschmann, C. W., & Drago, D. (2018). Design for success: Identifying a process for transitioning to an intensive online course delivery model in health professions education. Medical education online, 23(1), 1415617.