Online in Half the Time: Tips for Successfully Accelerating Your Course

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Accelerated online courses (8-week courses, for example) are being offered at an increasing rate due to non-traditional students’ desire to complete courses more quickly and utilize the flexibility and convenience that online learning affords. With this condensed format, it is natural for faculty to focus on how to get all of their content across in a limited amount of time. Rather than focus on the limitations of this structure, let’s consider the strategies necessary for student success and satisfaction in this ever-growing format.


As an instructional designer with the University of Colorado, Alexis partners with faculty from a variety of disciplines to transform online learning spaces. Alexis' background is in education, having served as a teacher of English language learners for more than a decade at schools in Colorado, South Korea, and Oregon. She has also worked as a newspaper and public radio journalist, an academic advisor, and a curriculum development specialist. She earned her MS in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an MA in TESOL from The New School, and is working on her doctorate in education at the University of Colorado Denver.
Sarah is a Senior Instructional Designer at the University of Colorado-Denver in the Office of Digital Education. She works with faculty on designing and delivering online courses, collaborates with instructional designers across colleges and programs, and delivers faculty professional development for excellent online pedagogy.. She has a background in communication, extensive online teaching experience, and is a doctoral candidate in education with a focus on learning technologies. Her interests include creating engaging online learning environments, improving online presence, and designing learning experiences which foster student self-regulation and motivation.

Extended Abstract

Condensed or accelerated courses are becoming more popular due to the convenience for non-traditional students, and the benefit of focusing on a single course (or two) at a time. Literature has already shown that student performance is similar across regular-length and condensed formats. However, barriers persist for both faculty and students in accelerated formats, and many times the challenges of online learning are exacerbated by the condensed time frame. Thus, it is important to consider the strategies necessary for student and faculty success and satisfaction in this ever-growing format.

When condensing a semester-length course into an accelerated time frame, faculty often worry about the amount of content they need to squeeze into a limited number of weeks. While this is certainly a valid concern, additional considerations for student success and appropriate course design must also be taken into account. For example, presence and self-regulation strategies are not only crucial for online student success, but are additionally important in an accelerated format. Issues such as workload and cognitive overload are also important to address, for both student and faculty experience and satisfaction. Clear expectations and understanding the context of course content, and context and previous experience and knowledge of students are additional components to consider. In using evidence-based strategies to address these concerns through careful course design, accelerated courses can not only be just as effective as traditional-length courses, but can increase satisfaction and success for students and faculty alike.

During this session, participants will engage with the topic and content through a reflection activity on why accelerated courses are increasingly popular for students, and what challenges are present for both students and faculty in a condensed format. Additionally, five evidence-based tips with practical examples will be shared with session participants in an interactive format.