SDSU Flexible Course Design Institute (Flex-CDI)


In order to prepare faculty for the return to classrooms and in-person instruction in Fall 2021, the SDSU Flexible Course Design Institute (Flex-CDI) offers a customizable learning experience, featuring a 20- hour course for new participants and a 10-hour refresher course for returning participants. The institute leverages all the lessons and innovations from a year of online and hybrid teaching, and provides the opportunity for faculty to build their skill with innovative technology-rich pedagogy. The institute is specifically designed to be useful to faculty whether they are teaching entirely face-to-face or in a hybrid or virtual format.

For common questions, please see the Flexible Course Design Institute Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

Click here to view our other training resources.


This fifth iteration of the Flex-CDI continues to provide support for faculty as they:

  • ALIGN goals, activities, and assessments to optimize for online learning.
  • DEVELOP active learning strategies that transcend modalities (from face-to-face to fully online).
  • INVESTIGATE inclusive and equity-minded framework while designing for the online learning environment.
  • EXPLORE the effective use of asynchronous learning objects (websites, videos, in-video quizzing, etc.).
  • FOSTER skills and strategies for synchronous engagement in online courses.

And new-to-Summer-2021, the Flex-CDI supports faculty as they:

  • APPLY “lessons learned” from a year of online teaching and learning to a range of face-to-face modalities in Fall 2021.
  • SHARE stories and examples (i.e. activities, assignments, and Canvas courses) of how teaching has evolved in AY 20/21.
  • FOSTER dynamic active learning in new campus spaces by leveraging strategies used in, and materials developed for, online teaching.
  • DEVELOP flexible assessment strategies that can adjust to unexpected changes in modality and available tools.

Institute Summary

This is an online program led by SDSU faculty members with extensive experience teaching online. The program kicks off with a synchronous (live online) session. After the kick-off session, new participants begin working through a series of five required modules followed by three elective modules. What makes the Institute special is that it is made up of faculty helping other faculty in order to provide a high-quality learning experience for our students in Fall 2021 and beyond. In collaboration with ITS instructional designers and ITS technical staff, SDSU faculty who have extensive experience teaching in hybrid and online modalities have prepared these modules and will mentor participants as they work through the course. At its heart, this Institute is about high quality course design.

Time Commitment & Institute Requirements

New with this fifth iteration, the Flex-CDI Summer 2021 session will support two cohorts of faculty:

  • Newly participating faculty who are teaching in Fall 2021 and who have not engaged in previous iterations of Flex-CDI:
    • Institute: 20 hours (August 2–13)
      • Eight modules (five required; three elective modules)
      • Plus two “live” Zoom Monday sessions (August 2 and 9)
      • Final reflection
  • Returning faculty who have successfully completed Flex-CDI before in Summer or Winter:
    • Refresher: 10 hours (August 9–13)
      • Four modules (one required “Lesson Learned” module; three new-to-them elective modules)
      • Plus one “live” Zoom Monday session (August 9)
      • Final reflection

Institute Compensation

Those who complete this voluntary, faculty-led professional development program will receive a stipend. The amount of the stipend will be determined if the participant is considered a new participant ($1,000) or a returning participant ($500). Please note that these amounts are pre-tax. Per the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the CFA, teaching in Fall 2021 is a requirement for compensated participation.

Institute Modules

For new participants, the Institute includes eight modules (five required, three elective) that are focused on developing skills in teaching online as well as expanding participants’ knowledge of tools that are used to provide content and to increase student engagement. For returning participants, the Institute includes four modules (one required, three electives). The recommended pace for module completion, whether participants are new or returning, is one module every 1.25 days. Each module takes approximately two-hours to complete and will include engagement with content (reading and/or video), and such activities as a quiz, an applied activity, and/or a discussion board reflection. Within the first week, new participants consult with their assigned faculty peer mentor (PM) to determine the best set of elective modules to address their needs. Returning participants will select their electives in the week prior to their engagement with the Institute. Click here full list of modules and their descriptions.

Differences from SDSU’s semester-long Course Design Institute (CDI)

Flex-CDI familiarizes participants with the principles of online course design and offers a menu of modular options catered to faculty interest and experience. In contrast, CDI participants complete a semester-long experience which culminates with a fully-designed online course, having completed ALL these modules, in a way that their newly-designed course meets expectations of Quality Online Learning and Teaching (QLT) rubric.

Institute Team and Questions

The Institute is a cross-campus collaboration among Instructional Technology Services (ITS) and the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE). In addition, the Institute will include campus experts on various topics, instructional designers, along with faculty peer mentors, who will work with a cohort of faculty as they develop their courses. Institute Facilitators are Professor Elizabeth Pollard (History, CAL ITS Faculty Fellow) and Andrea Saltzman Martin (Instructional Designer, College of Education and ITS). For questions about the Institute, please email Michelle Peterson <[email protected]>.

Past Institutes

Summer 2020 & Winter 2021

Materials from the Flexible Course Design Institute are available as the Flexible Course Design Toolkit: Tutorials & Resource Guides. To preview the content of the course, please see this course link. To Enroll in the course so that it is available via your Dashboard or listed in your courses, please use this Enroll Link. Content from the Summer 2021 course will be added to the Toolkit in early fall.

Also, check out the Quick Talk conversations from Fall 2020!

Canvas Commons Content

The content of the Flexible Course Design Institute is available in the Canvas Commons as Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) content under Creative Commons license. The Canvas Commons version is a self-paced, unmoderated, asynchronous version of the course. It contains the August 2021 versions of nineteen modules (five required and fourteen electives).

Please visit the Canvas Commons to preview the content and import the course into your own Canvas Instance.