Best Practices for Online Teaching

"… the online course must have a considerable amount of instructor involvement … The instructor should introduce himself or herself, distribute periodic and regular organizational e-mails, personally contact individual students, make postings to threaded discussion, participate in chats, both spoken and typed, and make short and on-target presentations—single concept lectures."
From Designing the "Perfect" Online Course by Michael Simonson (pg. 6)

Preparing for Students

  • Complete eLearn Essentials training if you’re new to online teaching.
  • Add content to course from the model course or approved shell.
  • Review all course materials and links from a student view. Fix or remove broken links.
  • Update and post your accessible syllabus.
  • Add your contact info and personalize your course.
  • Add/update course announcements.
  • Check (and update if necessary) all open, close, and due dates.
  • Familiarize yourself with the weekly routine and major assignments.
  • Check the grade book. Ensure all assignments are listed and organized.
  • Compare your eLearn Classlist to Banner. Notify of discrepancies.

Maintaining Presence

  • Login to the class at least 5 days each week.
  • Communicate (via email, announcements, and/or discussions) to students an overview for the week.
  • Post and hold online office hours using video conferencing.
  • Respond to ALL email (course mail and VSCC email) within 24 to 48 hours (or sooner).
  • Grade assignments promptly and provide useful feedback.
  • Create and post mini-lectures (text or video based) to reinforce difficult course concepts.
  • Facilitate discussion boards:
    • Respond to some posts
    • Correct misconceptions
    • Ask probing questions
  • Use the Class Engagement tool to monitor student activity. Send individual emails regularly to offer help or kudos as needed.
  • Make notes about course updates that you’ve made or should make next semester. Send critical updates to the course developer immediately.

Timely Highlights

Day 1

  • Submit Banner attendance reporting.
  • Send a welcome email to students. Explain how to get started.
  • Notify students of any exam proctoring requirements.
  • Set final grade calculation to be visible (release final grades).

Week 1, 2 & 3

  • Watch for late-adds. Forward important emails to them.
  • Continue to submit Banner attendance reporting.
  • Send Early Alerts to students who have not engaged in the class.

Semester 40% Complete: Nearing Midterms

  • Send Early Alerts as necessary.
  • Remind students of mid-term exam parameters.

Semester 60% Complete: Just After Midterms

  • Communicate with at-risk students about withdrawal deadline.

Crossing the Finish Line

Semester 80%+ Complete

  • Remind students to complete course evaluations.
  • Remind students of final exam parameters, such as proctoring and important dates.
  • Send encouraging emails.
  • Send a farewell email. Wish students well in their future endeavors.
  • Post final grades in Banner by due date.

Course Updates

  • Refer to your weekly notes; notify the course developer of any changes or updates that you think would benefit the course.
  • If you are the course developer, update the model course using the instructor suggestions as a guide.
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