Academic Continuity: Tips for Teaching Online
Key Items to Think About During Course Development
The following may help faculty work through the process of addressing academic continuity during course development and planning.
- Think about your face-to-face class meetings. How much time is spent lecturing, engaging students in discussion, working through problems, and answering questions?
- Is this instruction amenable to online delivery using any of the technologies described on this page?
- If yes, what technologies appear to be appropriate/feasible?
- What training/support do you need? (Contact email@example.com for training.)
- How will you make your course content readily available to students should a significant number of them need to miss class or if the University must close?
- How will this content be organized?
- What support will your students need in order to participate online?
- How will homework and exams be handled?
- Can these items be converted to online format using myWPI?
- Will you need to create makeup assignments or exams for students who need to miss class?
- Will your grading process need to change?
- Who can cover your material if you need to miss class for an extended period of time?
- Are your lecture materials and notes available on a workgroup file share or through myWPI?
Recommendations/Tips for Online Delivery
This section provides faculty with information and tips on how to effectively deliver an online course. For more information or to schedule a consultation with a member of the ATC's Technology for Teaching & Learning Staff, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clarify course expectations/logistics in the Syllabus. Be sure to think about how these might change if the University is closed for an extended period of time or if a significant portion of the class becomes ill. At a minimum, include the following:
- Your contact information
- The best way you can be reached
- Contact policies (when students can expect a response, weekend availability, etc.)
- Required course materials
- Course logistics (when assignments are due, assignment naming conventions, cheating policies, accepting late work, etc.)
- Assessments/Grading Policies (how final grades are assigned, Incomplete grade policies, etc.)
- Course timeline/schedule
- Assignment details (description, instructions, due dates, etc.)
Organizing Content in myWPI
- If using myWPI, organize content into topical folders within Course Materials. Place everything related to a particular topic into that folder (e.g. Lecture PowerPoint files, supplemental links, articles, etc.). This will help guide students through your content and should you need to convert to online delivery, will make the transition easier as materials will be easy to navigate.
- At the top of each topical folder, include a text overview of key points, instructor’s thoughts, expectations for the topic, and a brief description of each of the items within the folder.
- Develop contingency plans to deal with make-up assignments, tests, labs, etc.
- Provide prompt electronic feedback on online assignments and tests through E-mail or through the Grade Center tool in myWPI.
- Post answers to problem sets online for students to access when reviewing their assignments or studying for exams.
- More information on myWPI Assessment Tools (click Assessment on the lower portion of the page).
If your traditional face-to-face course includes a lot of interactive discussion, consider using the Discussion Board tool in myWPI.
- In the Syllabus or in a Discussion Board forum, provide clear requirements for participation. These requirements should address length, due dates, the number of posts, and the number of responses.
- Avoid Instant Messaging (IM) language in posts and discourage your students from doing so as well.
- Encourage students to further explore and research the ideas they present in their posts. Ask engaging questions that challenge them to think deeply about the topic.
- Maintain a presence in the discussion board, but don’t respond to every post right away. Doing so might stifle the discussion. Instead, let students guide the discussion and see where it goes. If necessary, chime in and ask thoughtful questions or use language that encourages other students to participate (e.g. “I’m curious to see what other opinions on X are.”).
- Online communication lacks the non-verbal cues that provide much of the meaning in face-to-face conversations. Choose your words carefully, phrase your sentences clearly, and keep your sentences and paragraphs brief.
- Encourage students who are not participating via private email to share their valuable insights. If they feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts, find out why.
Last modified: Jan 30, 2014, 11:28 EST