Summer Session FAQs

For more information about preparing for Fall 2020, Duke Learning Innovation has developed a new resource, Flexible Teaching, which features a series of guides for course design, delivery, and materials. Please refer to as you prepare for your fall course(s).

Last updated April 30, 2020 

This FAQs addresses Summer 2020 instruction. We will continuously update this as new questions come in so please check back regularly. If you have questions about summer session that are not answered here, contact If you have questions about teaching, please contact us at

General Questions

Q: Is Summer Session (Term 1 or 2) cancelled?

A: Summer Session courses for both terms will be delivered remotely. For more information see the Duke Summer Session website update.

Q: Are the dates and times changing for Summer 1 or Summer 2? Will there still be 4- week and 6-week options?

A: The term dates for summer sessions are not changing, and we will offer both 4-week and 6-week course options.

Term 1:
May 13 – June 25 (6-week term);
May 13 – June 6 (4-week term)

Term 2:
June 29 – August 9 (6-week term);
July 7 – July 30 (4-week term)

Q: Who can teach Summer Session courses?

A: Duke faculty, DKU faculty, qualified current graduate, recently graduated PhD and MFA students are invited to teach summer courses. Resources are available for TA support based on enrollment.

Q: I am interested in teaching an online course this summer. How do I submit a proposal?

A: Proposals are no longer being accepted for summer session courses.

Q: I am teaching a summer session course. When will I know if it has been canceled?

Courses may be cancelled due to insufficient enrollment; the decision to cancel any Term 1 online courses will be made by May 6. Decisions regarding cancellation of Term 2 courses will be made no later than mid-June, on a specific date to be communicated.

Q: Who is allowed to enroll in Duke Summer Session for-credit courses?

A: Summer session courses are open to currently enrolled Duke undergraduate students, DKU undergraduate students, and undergraduate students at other universities (i.e., not seeking their degree at Duke).

Q. Is there anyone who might be able to help me think through the online technologies and tools available, and help me identify what might work best for my particular class?

A: Yes! Please contact and we can match you with someone on our team to walk you through the various options.

Summer 2020 Online: Class Meetings

Q: How do I plan the workload for an online summer session course?

A: In an online course, the focus shifts from ‘seat time’ to overall ‘time on task.’

A typical face-to-face, on-campus 6-week Summer session course consists of 75 minute class periods, 5 days/wk for 6 weeks (in other words, students spend 6.25 hours in a physical classroom per week). Current consensus in US higher education is that for each in-class hour, students should spend an additional 2-3 hours on homework time outside of class. So a 6 week Summer Session course should work out to roughly 18-19 hrs/wk.

In an online course, instructors can use those 18-19 hrs/wk in much more flexible ways. The scheduled class times can still be employed (for example, the instructor might have one or more live video conferencing sessions via Zoom), but this does not have to be the case. Students might watch pre-recorded video of the instructor, work with the instructor and other students in online chats and/or engage with other critical materials over the duration of the week that all result in regular interaction with the instructor.

For those developing an online course for the first time, you might consider using the hours above as a guideline. Does your course plan provide students with 18-19 hrs/wk of interaction with the course material, with assignments, with peers via forums and chats and/or writing papers or working on presentations, etc? Out of those 18-19 hrs/wk, are roughly 6 of those hours dedicated to instruction (either directly or indirectly — see below)?

Q: What is the expectation for weekly contact hours online?

A: Duke defines contact hours as “required time in which all students are directly engaged, as a class, in interaction with the instructor(s) of the course, synchronously or asynchronously either in the classroom or virtually through telepresence, web-conference, or other online platforms.”

Synchronous contact

Real-time interaction between instructor and students, whether in-class or online (e.g., Zoom meetings.) should be recorded and distributed to accommodate students in different time zones or with limited bandwidth.

Asynchronous contact

Contact between instructor and student that is not real-time (e.g., recorded videos, slideshows with voice-over, pre-recorded lecture capture, text-based discussion in forums, etc.).

For online courses, you do not need to hold a set number of synchronous sessions. In fact, due to the fact that students are spread around the world with different levels of internet connectivity, we encourage faculty to use asynchronous means as much as possible. That said, you may wish to hold 1-2 live Zoom office hours or conversations per week if at all possible, even if all students can’t attend all sessions. Students should not be penalized if they cannot participate in these sessions. Sessions should also be recorded and distributed to students to accommodate those who are unable to participate. Visit the Class Meetings Online page for more information.

Q: How do we manage time zone issues?

A: Though live class sessions are not mandatory, any live class session (in Zoom for example) should be recorded and made shareable with all students in the class. Visit the Class Meetings Online page for more information about managing classes with students in various timezones.

Summer 2020 Online: Grading and Assessment

Q: Will Duke Summer Session adopt the S/U grading policy from Spring 2020?

A: Summer session will revert to normal Duke grading policies:

Q: What are my options for assessments for quantitative courses?

A: We have identified a number of strategies and tools on the Assignments and Assessments page. As part of the Keep Teaching effort, Duke Learning Innovation will work with faculty to help them identify the best approaches and technologies to managing online assessment.

Summer 2020 Online: Academic Accommodations and Accessibility

Q: Should instructors do anything differently for students who have Academic Accommodations?

A: Instructors should continue to comply with academic accommodations authorized by the Student Disability Access Office (SDAO). In most cases, accommodations will not change, and the Testing Center is operating remotely. If you are concerned about meeting particular accommodations remotely, reach out to SDAO. Students with accommodations should provide instructors with a letter outlining their approved accommodations. If a student has new or updated accommodations for any reason, the SDAO will provide the student with a new letter to give to instructors.

For more information, visit the Academic Accommodations section of the Keep Teaching FAQs

This page will be updated with more information as we receive more questions.