Active Teaching Lab Recap: “Course-and-a-half Syndrome”— 10 ways to avoid (01.13.2021)

Wed January 13, 2021

Our January 13, 2021 Lab addressed the challenge of designing a remote/online course without it feeling like more work for students. Even if you haven’t added more to your remote course, the format might make it feel like more.

FIRST TAKE: 7 Ways to Avoid “Course-and-a-half Syndrome”

Students (and their parents!) are increasingly speaking up about the amount of work in a course. What’s going on? How can we address their allegations? 

  1. Communicate with students: Open honest communication builds trust, and indicates care and support.
  2. Acknowledge difficulty: Remote instruction is different, thus requires new habits. Acknowledge that reality.
  3. Ask Students: In assignments and activities, ask students to reflect on the amount of time they spend.
  4. Enlist their help: Some students will figure out better/streamlined approaches both for the work you assign and for better assignments to meet the learning goals. Have them share with each other and with you!
  5. Balance Overview and Just-In-Time Information: Provide a roadmap and turn-by-turn directions when needed.
  6. Help students with signage and rhythm: Consistent language, headings, and course patterns ease feelings of chaos.
  7. Foster social belonging: Difficulty is more easily overcome with trusted colleagues.

To learn more and discover new resources, visit the session’s activity sheet.


We just moved Labs to Microsoft Teams and in the ruckus of our first attempt, we were unable to record the session.

Find out more about Active Teaching Labs here.