Agile Course Design: Creating Engaging Virtual Learning Environments for Students

3.5-Day | Virtual | Designed for: Teaching Faculty/Department Heads

As we plan for future courses that may toggle between in person and online, we must ask, “What are we doing in our classes?” and, “How are we spending our time?” What are the challenges and opportunities of synchronous versus asynchronous and what are the options that live in-between?

In this course, we will explore how to design for student choice and engagement in the virtual learning environment using strategies that will also serve us well in-person. Learn practical frameworks for how to best:

  • Balance direct instruction with independent learning
  • Set and communicate clear and supportive goals and expectations
  • Establish micro deadlines that develop independent learning skills
  • Encourage collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
  • Motivate students to follow their own line of inquiry
  • Maximize student choice in everything from project design and essay topics to presentations and assessments
  • Allow for reflection and offer feedback that encourages iteration
  • Design for equity and meet the needs of our diverse group of learners


The rapid transition to distance learning has left us teaching to a Brady-Bunch grid of empty, muted Zoom screens. Our “normal” feedback loops with students are missing and it feels harder (sometimes impossible) to know whether our students are engaged or how to evaluate their engagement. Engagement is the gateway to collaboration, critical thinking, and deeper learning.

Course Format

The workshop is a blend of 12 total hours of synchronous sessions divided across 4 days (~3 hours/day). Don’t worry – we break up those 3 hours into time-will-fly-by chunks with a walk-away-from-your-computer break halfway through. There will also be up to 2 hours of you-get-out-of-it-what-you-put-into-it asynchronous work per/day. The synchronous portions are delivered over Zoom video conferencing. During the course, participants will use a design thinking approach to build or rebuild a structure or unit from their own course optimizing for in-person, distance, and hybrid learning.

Schedule at your school