An Introduction to FSU Flex

The uncertainty of COVID-19 presents unique challenges for high-quality academic instruction. To best serve our students and deliver courses with both flexibility and classroom safety in mind, FSU has adopted a flexible course model. FSU's approach allows students the choice of learning remotely or in-person and includes both "flex" courses and those with cohorted face-to-face (F2F) and remote sections. It also ensures a high level of instructional resilience should the pandemic necessitate a shift back to fully remote instruction. Regardless of whether you teach a flex course, a cohorted F2F/remote course, or a strictly F2F course that may include quarantined students, the steps below provide helpful tips for course planning.

What is an FSU
flex class?

In a flex course, the instructor teaches in-person, in the classroom, following all CDC recommendations and university safety protocols. Students enrolled in a flex course can choose to attend the course remotely or in-person.

What is a F2F-remote class?

In a cohorted F2F/remote class, the instructor teaches in-person, in the classroom, following all CDC recommendations and university safety protocols. Students register for either a F2F or remote section of the course and stay in their enrolled sections throughout the semester.

What resources are available?

The Office of Distance Learning (ODL), Technology Enhanced Classrooms (TEC), Program for Instructional Excellence (PIE), and Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) are your flex teaching partners. Each is committed to walking alongside instructors with resources and expertise.

Six Steps for Flexible Course Planning

In addition to the tips below, FSU is offering a variety of trainings, Q&As, and other resources to support you with classroom safety, flex teaching strategies, and use of Canvas and related technologies. Stay tuned to university announcements so you can access these essential services for flex course planning and implementation.


Step 1. Decide how you will include remote students in your F2F course.

How students engage remotely, synchronously or asynchronously, is up to you. Depending on your course and what you know will foster learning success, you may opt for synchronous (remote students participate during the scheduled F2F class time), asynchronous (remote students participate on their own time), or a combination of both. However you choose to include remote students, make sure you clearly establish expectations in the course syllabus.

  • Synchronous | With synchronous course delivery, instructors conduct their class from the classroom during their regularly scheduled meeting time. If using Zoom to include remote students, be sure to create and post course policies for student conduct during Zoom sessions (eg, expectations regarding cameras being on or off). For instructions and tips on using Zoom for teaching synchronously, see Strategies for Flexible Course Delivery, Including Remote Students in a Live, In-Person Class, and the Zoom Overview.
  • Asynchronous | With asynchronous course delivery, instructors use their Canvas course site to publish course materials and activities so that students can engage with content on their own time. Asynchronous delivery provides ultimate flexibility for students and is encouraged when feasible. Examples include pre-recording lectures, posting assignments, and creating discussion boards. When remote students engage with course materials, they should be doing an equivalent amount of work and contact hours as F2F students. Be sure to set clear expectations for both your remote and F2F students.
  • Combination of Synchronous & Asynchronous | A combined approach blends live, synchronous instruction of lectures and/or discussion via Canvas with engagement activities outside of class meeting times. Additional homework or other engagement assignments may be necessary to ensure remote students are making equivalent contact with the course materials.

Step 2. Create and communicate your course policies.

The course syllabus should clearly communicate your course policies. It should also describe your attendance expectations for both remote and in-class students. In addition to the syllabus, Canvas announcements are helpful for providing the information students need to be successful. We recommend recording and posting a welcome video and using it to show students how to navigate your course in Canvas.

Step 3. Elevate Canvas presence for your courses.

Canvas is an essential tool for flexible teaching. Review the Quality Course Design page for information on using a course template, writing course- and module-level objectives, designing assessments, and strategies for engaging students in the online environment.

Step 4. Plan ahead and make use of university resources.

If you are scheduled to teach a flex or F2F/remote class, be sure to take advantage of the university resources available to you, such as:

Step 5. Implement your flex or F2F/remote course.

When the semester starts, make use of the university resources organized to support you. Participate in trainings as needed and practice ahead of time with your technology to minimize technical disruptions during class meetings. Reflect on how your course is going, seeking consultation if you feel modifications are needed. If you need assistance with academic technologies, like Canvas, submit a ticket to the ODL Technical Support team or call 850-644-8004.

Step 6. Stay updated.

Finally, keep up-to-date on news regarding COVID-19 from FSU, federal, state, and local health authorities. If you have questions or course support needs, consult with your ODL, PIE, CAT, and TEC partners, as well as the technical services staff in your department. In the event students or colleagues in your program are affected directly by COVID-19, be prepared with makeup policies and contingency plans for course coverage.

Your work on behalf of our students is much appreciated! As you continue to pursue high-quality academic instruction at FSU, resources and university partners are equipped and ready to support you. See Strategies for Flexible Course Delivery for more information on flex teaching.