This subsection of the Handbook provides tips, ideas, and resources for effective and engaging online teaching.
Familiarize Yourself with the Course
Online instructors need to be familiar with the course content and navigation. We recommend you do the following things before each semester, especially if you are taking a course over from another instructor:
- Check course navigation on the home page and the course menu located on the left hand side. You may be new to the course yourself. Can you find the major parts of the course easily from the home page? Does the home page organization make sense? Is it neat and uncluttered?
- Check and revise content and links. Review the content on pages and in modules. Is information accurate? Do links to external websites work?
- Review quizzes and assignment instructions. Are they complete and up-to-date?
- Set due dates for assignments and assessments.
- Prepare and upload the syllabus. See “The Syllabus” subsection of the Teaching Excellence Handbook for how to create, share, and distribute a UNT course syllabus.
- Set up Grade Center. Columns associated with existing assignments and quizzes should already be in place. However, you may wish to add more columns for other activities or may wish to set up calculated columns to add or average together multiple existing columns. Check column release settings so that you can determine if students can see grades once you have entered them.
Create an Engaging First Week Experience
While many principles of engaged teaching and learning are similar across course modalities, how to establish an engaged learning environment can differ drastically. See the following suggested Teaching Commons articles for tips and ideas on how to establish an engaging learning environment for your online course:
- Online learning environments are often more ambiguous than face-to-face environments due to their new technologies and lack of face-to-face contact. Setting expectations for online students is a crucial first step in reducing this ambiguity.
- Another contribution to ambiguity in the online learning environment is the lack of physical instructor presence. Thus, instructors teaching online courses need to make their presence known in other ways. See this article, The Importance of Instructor Presence in Online Learning, for tips and ideas on creating instructor presence in the online course environment. As you consider instructor presence, it is also important to consider the different communication expectations for online courses versus face-to-face.
- To get students off on the right foot in an online course, a Start Here section helps tremendously. See this article, Designing a Start Here Section for Your Online Course, for tips and ideas for creating a Start Here section.
- During the first week, you will need to orient your students to the course. See this article, Orienting Students to Your Online Course, for tips and ideas for establishing an engaged learning environment during the first week of class.
- See this CLEAR webpage on Best Practices for Online Teaching for more tips and ideas for effective online teaching.