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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 piece During the first week of the online course . . .

Managerial Expectations

Contact Missing Students and Draw in Participants

checkbox  Watch out for non-participants during the first week of class and contact them by phone to see if they have login/access difficulties.

Inform Students about Withdrawal Timeline

checkbox  Be acutely aware of the refund policy and withdrawal deadlines. If the student is unable to gain access to course materials or decides this is not the right class, inform the student about the deadline and how to contact the registrar, as the decision needs to be made promptly.

Minimize Delays

checkbox  If students are late adds, contact them promptly with support information about how to gain access to course materials, login to the course management system.

Social Expectations

Set the Climate for Learning

checkbox  Communicate regularly through announcement or module introduction area. Nothing makes an online student feel more isolated or alienated than the sense that the instructor is rarely present.

Create an Icebreaker to Build the Sense of Community

checkbox  Facilitate an icebreaker activity related to a course key objective or content and give your students the opportunity to show their human side as well as their academic prowess. Encourage students to share background info, personal interests, perhaps a "what makes me unique," to encourage participation as three-dimensional people.
checkbox  Encourage students to post a photo or other representation (avatar) on their student profile.

Invite Students to the Student Lounge

checkbox  Create a "student lounge" discussion area. This gives students a forum to exchange ideas casually and off-topic. Such a discussion area can be designated to eliminate casual chat out in the academic discussions.

Pedagogical / Instructional Design Expectations

Communicate with Students Daily to Build a Positive Rapport

checkbox  Model discussion response behavior and tone. Use a conversational tone that is inviting, personal, friendly, and encouraging.
checkbox  Monitor the discussion area daily. Reinforce student discussion board contributions and provide positive explanatory feedback (personally) to those who make the discussion area a better place through their participation. Watch for laggards who sit out the forum and flamers who use personal put-downs or attacks to impress or sound authoritative. Intervene, reference the discussion rubric, and provide a safe learning environment before it poisons the discussion area for all.
checkbox  Respond to email messages and questions posted on the discussion board within 24 hours.
checkbox  Announce when students can expect to receive timely feedback on assignments, including how to access the online grade book and where to view instructor feedback.

Contact Non-participants

checkbox  Watch for laggards who sit out the forum, and contact them privately to see if they need help or encouragement to participate.

Ask the Class Questions

checkbox  Challenge your students by asking questions that apply to the readings and communicate high expectations.
Continue to Throughout the online course . . .