This orientation is organized into four stages of teaching an online class. To download a printable copy of the complete checklist, click here.

Before the course begins | The first week | Throughout the course | The last week

puzzle pieceBefore the online course begins . . .

Technical Expectations

Course Management System

checkbox  Get acquainted with the course management system and access tutorials showing how to use specific features including:
bulletthe Assignment pages and system
bulletposting, editing and reordering news announcements
bulletadding or rearranging discussion prompts on the Discussion Board
bulletsetting up quizzes and surveys.

Checking for Broken Links

checkbox  Review all course hyperlinks to readings and supplementary resources and update broken links and remove dead links. Nothing says "stale" or "outdated" faster than a dead link. Links can disappear overnight. A link dated 2001 may still work but provide seriously obsolete information and data. Keep resources fresh and current each term.

Reference Citations

checkbox  Verify that all referenced sources are properly cited. Model how to cite sources and images ethically and legally for students.

Course Multimedia Accessibility

checkbox  Test course navigation and correct to solve accessibility issues.
checkbox  Contact technical support staff for assistance in adding enhancements such as podcasts, video introductions, and video lectures to the online course and verify that all multimedia meet disability accommodation requirements such as closed captions on videos, transcripts of all audio and videos including YouTube videos, and proper use of heading tags in news announcements.
checkbox  Check all media for proper display, video playback, and create alt tags for all images.

News and Announcements

checkbox  Create an audio or video welcome from the instructor in the first module or post a photo and brief biography in the Announcements area of the course for the opening day of the class.
checkbox  Enter the release dates for news announcements copied forward from a previous term.

Gradebook Set Up

checkbox  Confirm online gradebook settings are accurate for total assessment.

Virus Protection

checkbox Update virus protection on your computer because files will be coming from many sources, and students may not be as careful with anti-virus updates.

Managerial – Course Organization Expectations

Course Calendar

checkbox Be aware that Canvas creates a course calendar that clearly outlines due dates for readings and assignments. If the course involves group work and student-to-student feedback, clearly communicating time parameters and staying on schedule is vital to keep pace with the course. Students need to be able to access the calendar from any page of the course. Indicate pending assignments and activities on your To Do list (a part of Canvas).


checkbox Contact information, preferred communication method, expected response times to email messages and questions (preferably 24 hours), and expected response time for timely feedback on assignments including whether students will receive feedback in the Assignments or the online gradebook.
checkbox  Identify specific expectations for frequency of responses/postings on the Discussion Board.
checkbox  Include links to the academic honesty policy.
checkbox  Publish your Online Office Hours in several places on your course materials. The attached sample policy should be included in your course Syllabus, for example.
checkbox  Articulate the course "late policy" clearly. Review a sample policy here.


Welcome Email

checkbox Send a welcome message to students, including the required textbooks and/or software and other material needed, how to purchase, rent or download the material in ample time for them to acquire them prior to the first day of class. If possible, arrange for a linked excerpt or PDF copy of Week 1 readings for students who are waiting for delivery of materials on Day 1 of the course.
checkbox  Include information about whom to contact for technical assistance with logging into email or the course management system.
checkbox  Include information about disability accommodation.
checkbox  Include information about what date the course will open for pre-class orientation to reduce anxiety, provide preview time and resolve technical issues before the course begins.
checkbox  Announce your office hours and/or email response timing. Students need to know how soon they can expect to get a reply from you.

Pre-course Survey

checkbox  Create a pre-course survey to learn more about each student. Verify contact information and discover students' specific learning goals and background.

Student Orientation

checkbox  Create an orientation page explaining Canvas, the school's course management system, or provide a link to existing tutorials that the school's technical department has created.
checkbox  Use a "scavenger hunt" activity to get students acclimated to the Discussion Board, readings, Assignment submission, etc., and read the course requirements in the syllabus and course calendar.
checkbox  Start the pre-class time by sharing information on procedures, links to tutorials, screen captures of various course tools, etc.

Student Contact Info Spreadsheet

checkbox  Update a spreadsheet listing student phone numbers, including home and cell phones and email addresses. As the course progresses, this resource will save time when contacting students personally. A telephone call can provide the personal touch needed to show support for a wavering student. A friendly voice and "you're doing great" make the work easier to approach.

Pedagogical / Instructional Design Expectations

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes

checkbox  Review Module One and update information to communicate important course goals and learning outcomes clearly.

Netiquette/Ground Rules

checkbox Establish netiquette rules or course ground rules emphasizing how to participate in online discussion forums, behaviors acceptable in the online learning environment, and polite forms of online interaction. (For example, a friendly, positive tone is required in all postings on the Discussion Board, students are encouraged to ask questions in the Q & A topic within each module, students are encouraged to connect with others in the course.)
checkbox  Provide a group activity to develop course ground rules in a wiki, or a scavenger hunt activity for students to review information provided in the syllabus, course calendar, and netiquette guidelines.

Discussion Prompts

checkbox  Set up or revise the course discussion prompts to encourage critical thinking on the discussion board.

Past Course Evaluations

checkbox  Review past course evaluations to determine enhancement for instructional strategies.

Course Assignments

checkbox  Review and revise assignments to emphasize a high level of Bloom's Taxonomy and help avoid the possibility of plagiarism.
Continue to During the first week of the online course . . .