I present here a simple idea for breaking down how I typically plan out courses.

I have three considerations: time (T), accessibility (A) and rigour (R). Accessibility is the breadth of audience that I reach; basically, the number of students who will get value from a lecture or class. Rigour is the completeness of the material. Time is the time available to teach.

With this in mind, I propose the following.

**1. Time is proportional to the product of accessibility and rigour (T = A*R)**

As rigour and/or accessibility increase, time increases

**2. Accessibility is proportional to time divided by rigour (A = T/R)**

The idea here is that if infinite time were available, it would be possible to teach any student anything with as much rigour as required.

**3. Rigour is proportional to time divided by accessibility (R = T/A)**

For a fixed period of time, any increase in accessibility will reduce rigour.

With this in mind, we get the following visual model to help understand the relationship:

As a university professor I have some control over time, but not much. I do have control over accessibility and rigour. For courses in which I know the material must remain accessible to a broad audience, I generally have to lower rigour. If a course needs to be rigorous, then I expect accessibility to decline.

While I have little control over in classroom time, I have discovered that online tools can be useful for increasing the time of instruction. Using readings, online quizzes, and video content, I can increase content without requiring more class time. I use this extra time to delve into details I can’t cover in class–and add rigour.

**Conclusion**

This is all obvious to experienced instructors, however, my treatment here is a bit more rigorous than what one typically sees in discussions of teaching strategies. Which, unfortunately, means I very likely lost your attention several paragraphs ago.