Review Mode of Instruction and Synchronicity Definitions

Decisions about modality happen early in the design process, and shared definitions need to inform that process. As you design your course, you will answer two central questions about course modality:

  • What mode of instruction will be used for the course?
  • How will the course sessions be delivered (synchronicity)?

Mode of Instruction

Courses can be offered in one of the following three modalities: in-person (P), hybrid (WC) and online (WO). (As of fall 2021, remote instruction (T) is no longer an available mode).

The mode of instruction indicates where course section meetings occur (i.e., in-person, online, a hybrid/mix). Please see the university’s official mode of instruction course descriptors for more details. The descriptors were initially approved, in principle, by the University Curriculum Committee in October 2020 and further updates to the wording continue to be made for added clarity.

Also keep in mind that instruction in any of the defined modes must adhere to the university’s policy on credit hour: credit reflects 45 hours of learning activities across the term, as well as involves regular and substantive interaction between students and the instructor. One “hour” is the equivalent of 50 minutes. View the full UW-Madison Policy on the Credit Hour.

In addition, a range of pedagogical formats (e.g., blended, active, flipped, etc.) can be used in the various modes of instruction.


The university’s official mode of instruction course descriptors also identify two methods of delivery: synchronous sections that involve scheduled, time-specific meetings and asynchronous sections that allow students to learn on their own schedule, within a certain time frame as part of an intentionally designed learning experience. Course delivery is indicated in the course schedule, and will determine how you set the course calendar and what kinds of activities and assessments you develop.