Fall 2021 Instruction Guidelines

Instruction Expectations

For Fall 2021, Columbia University is resuming in-person instruction and activities, with a vaccine mandate and public health protocols that will ensure the safety of, and a return to, a vibrant and fully engaged Columbia community. All courses will be in-person and on campus.

Departments and academic programs will determine options available to international students who face visa-related delays that prevent them from arriving at the start of the semester. Depending on the academic program and an individual student’s situation, these international students may be permitted to participate remotely in some courses, or may be asked to defer or take a leave. There is no expectation that all courses will have simultaneous remote access.

Ongoing Use of Technology

Faculty and students will meet in person for class sessions. Since March 2020, instructional activities have been sustained with the unprecedented use of technology. In many cases, technology has enhanced active learning and enabled instructional activities that would not be possible otherwise. A return to in-person instruction does not mean that innovative course elements developed during the pandemic should be eliminated. In fact, many faculty members have thoughtfully and deliberately incorporated elements into their courses to encourage and support engagement with their students. Faculty should continue to utilize tools and approaches that enhance face-to-face learning and engage students in innovative and creative ways.

Examples of innovation:

  • Faculty have recorded some elements of their lecture in advance of class meetings to provide students with the ability to be exposed to new concepts. Such flipped classroom design, without a reduction of course contact hours, provides the opportunity for students and faculty to engage more fully in a higher-level active discussion when face to face.
  • Faculty have engaged guest speakers in global locations with the use of technology without the expense and time required for travel. During in- person class sessions, faculty may continue to engage remote guest speakers (i.e. by connecting through Zoom inside the classroom).
  • While it is important for faculty and teaching assistants to hold in-person office hours, they can continue to offer additional review sessions and office hours on Zoom outside of regular business hours to accommodate student schedules and needs.
  • If a class must be rescheduled, it should remain in person. Although unexpected emergency circumstances may justify the occasional use of Zoom in lieu of an in-person meeting, this should be seen as a rare exception rather than a convenience to accommodate conference or research travel, family schedules, and the like.

Important note: Alternative course delivery modalities (e.g. hybrid and online) continue to require prior departmental, School, and Committee on Instruction approvals.