Things to Consider as you Start to Teach Online

  • Verify course participants against your official course roster. Follow up with any who have not participated by the end of the first week of class.
  • Consider participation by students during the first two -three weeks of the term who don't necessarily end up enrolled in your course. Consider putting a "reminder" message with the registration drop/add dates for your course in your announcements.
    • Consider what you will do with "late starters." Be prepared to tell them where to start and how to catch up (e.g., consider alternate assignments such as summarizing discussions, rather than trying to go back and participate once the time for a specific activity has passed).
    • Make your first written or graded assignment one that can be done independently of the second, so that late starters can jump in to the current topic while simultaneously catching up. Or, prepare alternative assignments for late starters.
  • Don't become a HelpDesk for your students. If your institution offers technical support for students, use it. While it may be tempting to answer students’ questions, this may not be the best use of your time, and blurs boundaries for distance students. Even if you know the answer, refer non-course-related questions to the appropriate help source. Appropriate referrals will help students understand your role as professor more clearly.
    • Communicate with your help sources concerning anything that seems out of order in your course, particularly in the first 3 weeks.
    • Call your help sources any time you or your students cannot access your course, or experience problems that prevent normal participation.
  • Encourage public posting of general questions or comments, and reserve private communications for private issues only. Train students early to use areas and features of your course for general communications. It is more efficient to answer a question once in a public place. When a student emails you with such a question, you might respond, "This is a good question. Would you mind if I posted it and respond to it in the course?" or "Would you be willing to post your question in the course, so that other students can see my response?"
  • Set and maintain a regular logon schedule. Consider logging in on a scheduled basisespecially at the beginning of the course. Students will be wondering "who is out there?" and you can help them by checking the course frequently to  make announcements, respond to questions, interacting reassuring and guiding students as they become comfortable with you and the course.

  • Don't worry. Breathe. You can do this! It will be okay!

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