Planning & Resources for Teaching Fall 2020 Term

Dear Colleagues, 

Earlier this week you received a message from Alec about the critical need to utilize the month of May to plan for the Fall 2020 term. As you know, the fall will present a number of challenges for both faculty and students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues such as physical distancing, travel restrictions, illness, and quarantine will mean it is unlikely we will be functioning at “normal” operations in the Fall. 

Because of this, our focus must be on delivering preeminent engineering education in a manner that is robust to changing circumstances. All of our instructors must be prepared for a hybrid of online/remote and in-person teaching during Fall 2020. 

Here we provide initial guidance and resources to engage in the development of a high-quality, flexible curriculum that meets these standards, while complying with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19. This email outlines the pedagogy, as well as opportunities for training and consultations, recommended tools, and how each department might approach this differently. Many of these resources and more details are also available on the College’s COVID-19 Website. 

It is important to stress that these changes to pedagogy will take time to implement, therefore, it is critical that we begin right away. 



We recommend that faculty adopt a hybrid pedagogy that combines online and, as permitted, in-person components. Some key items of this requirement are: 

  • All course materials must be available online, allowing students and instructors to participate even if they cannot be on campus. 
  • Student success and well-being must be supported in this hybrid environment by fostering engagement and community (both student-student and student-faculty interactions) while being mindful of equity and accessibility. Participating online must hold the same weight as participating in-person for students. 
  • Course instructors should provide students every opportunity for experiential and hands-on learning, while maintaining a safe environment. 
  • All technology needs and expectations for courses must be clearly communicated to students well in advance of the beginning of the term, allowing time for appropriate preparation. 

Because participants can be either online or in-person, course design will require careful consideration of course context. Workshops will be offered (see below) to discuss and plan for how a hybrid pedagogy could be applied to various types of courses, including large lecture courses, small-to-medium lecture courses, lab courses, and design courses (Capstone and ENG100). 

Please note that we do not yet know what the state or University guidelines will be with regard to the number or density of people who can gather in classrooms or teaching laboratories, but will share that information as it becomes available. 


Faculty should use the month of May to engage in the training and preparation needed for online/remote teaching this fall. To help you successfully plan and develop your courses for the Fall 2020 term, the College has resources for consultation and training opportunities. CAEN, CRLT-Engin, and Nexus are partnering to provide alternate pedagogy, instructional support services, technology tools and to connect faculty to other valuable resources across campus.  

If you would like more targeted help for your specific course, here are some choices:

  • Submit a request or question to  
  • Schedule a One on One Consultation with Nexus and CRLT-Engin for in-depth planning and discussions on teaching strategies for specific types of courses (e.g. lecture, lab, design, project, guest speakers, seminar, etc.) at
  • Participate in a Professional Development workshop for successfully running hybrid laboratory courses, large or small-to-medium lecture courses, or design courses, or to learn about a specific technology or tool.
  • Join an Online Teaching Community of Practice to exchange ideas, resources, and best practices associated with remote teaching. 
  • Participate in the virtual Symposium on Engineering Teaching and Learning (ETL) running May 18 through May 29. The Symposium consists of 1-3 drop-in sessions daily ranging from 30 – 90 minutes on topics curated based on faculty questions and needs. Registration will begin on Monday. A separate message and information will be sent out then.  
  • Share your expertise on the COE Remote Teaching Slack workspace

Students will be more successful if similar tools are being used across classes. For that reason, we recommend you use the following tools for remote instruction: 


As Alec mentioned in his message, each department will be unique in how hybrid teaching is implemented. Our guiding principle for the Fall 2020 term is to focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of offerings. As such, your department may elect to make changes to the courses being offered in the fall. Your department chair or designated faculty will help make decisions about how to best move forward. 

Additionally, this may be an opportunity to take advantage of resources available in your department, such as knowledgeable colleagues or staff with whom you can consult about online education or team teaching opportunities with graduate students or other faculty.


We are incredibly proud of the way our faculty answered the call to go online with such short notice in Winter 2020. While some of you have been working in the online space for years, for many this was entirely new. We commend your efforts and successes under these circumstances. 

The foundations we lay out in May will support our success in the coming academic year. We must continue to adapt to our “new normal” and deliver the high-quality engineering education that the University of Michigan is known for.

Thank you for your continued dedication. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. 

Stay well,

Joanna Millunchick, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

Mary-Ann Mycek, Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Education