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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 pieceThroughout the online course . . .

Managerial Expectations

Provide Reminders about the Course Rubrics

checkbox  Utilize rubrics to make expectations clear and set criteria for excellent achievement.


Open and Close Course Materials

checkbox  Open and close content or discussion forums to optimize student learning and avoid confusion.


Update the Online Gradebook Promptly

checkbox  Keep the online gradebook current after assignment due dates. Use comments and narrative feedback as often as possible to support or explain assessments and maintain privacy of student grades and feedback.


Encourage Use of Library Online Databases

checkbox  Provide links to the school's academic support, online tutorial for library online databases, library and help desk. Encourage students to research relevant issues and find answers to content questions.

Monitor Attendance

checkbox  Check number of postings and frequency and follow up with missing students.


Announce Your Absence to Students

checkbox  If the instructor must be offline for a day or more, announce the absence to students with guidance of whom to contact during the absence.


Provide Deadline Reminders

checkbox  Remind students of upcoming deadlines. Conduct course according to the designated calendar with any deviations communicated to students in advance.

Social Expectations

Organize Collaborative Projects

checkbox  Assign small groups, dyads to achieve strong social interaction or create a method for students to select groups before beginning group projects. Invite and encourage students to complete a peer review of individual and group projects.
checkbox  Create areas for group members to work on group projects on the Discussion Board.
checkbox  Post group rosters in the news announcements before group projects begin.

Monitor Discussions for Civil Behavior

checkbox  Enforce netiquette standards and school behavior policies. Immediately contact students with inappropriate posts for explanation and clarification.
checkbox  Make disrespectful postings unavailable to the class at large.

Use Announcements to Keep Class Current

checkbox  Post reminders about important due dates, holiday wishes, and new-found resources.

Maintain a Daily Presence in Discussion Forums

checkbox  Provide positive feedback for exemplary postings. Refocus the discussion when students go off topic.

Provide Individual Messages of Encouragement

checkbox  Send an email or post on the discussion board words of encouragement. Respect and facilitate diverse talents and ways of learning.

Pedagogical / Instructional Design Expectations

Provide Supportive Information to Supplement Course Content

checkbox  Inject knowledge from diverse sources to assign student learning (references to articles, textbooks, personal experiences, or links to relevant external websites.) Use illustrations and examples to clearly explain important concepts.


Respond to Student Questions within 24 hours.

checkbox  Provide timely feedback and practical suggestions for student to complete their work on time.


Summarize Discussions and Seek to Reach Consensus

checkbox  Participate in discussions when appropriate. Know when to be the "guide on the side" and when to step in and redirect or supplement or summarize student participation. You're the authority, but take care to avoid stifling student expression by dominating the discussion.


Diagnose Misconceptions in Discussion Postings

checkbox  Help students revise their thinking in a way that helps to learn by correcting misunderstandings and presenting critical thinking questions.


Create Transitions

checkbox  Post news announcements that transition from one topic or module to the next to help students recognize time on task.


Use the Chat Feature for Explanatory Feedback

checkbox  Use a scheduled chat room or Skype discussion so that students can hear the instructor’s voice and those of their classmates, if appropriate. When students have questions about the final paper, for example, a live discussion can save a lot of repetition of common questions. The course management system’s chat feature may be used and archived for students who are unable to participate and want to review the discussion at a later time.


Provide Meaningful and Timely Feedback

checkbox  Evaluate student work promptly and provide meaningful feedback. Rubrics can be very effective in making expectations clear and setting criteria for excellent achievement. Encourage learning strategies which promote self-directed learning.
checkbox  Provide alternative assignments and assessments to accommodate students' individual needs when possible.


Use the Dropbox

checkbox  Avoid using e-mail for submission and evaluation of student work, if possible. Utilize the dropbox to reduce opportunities for students to argue that they "sent it but you never acknowledged it." Using the courseware management for assignment submission provides a receipt to the student and a documented date and time of submission (or the lack of it) in the event that there is a disagreement over incomplete work. It also provides an established, predictable location for students to receive feedback from you.


Keep a Journal

checkbox  Each week enter journal entries as the course progresses. What worked well? What needs adjustment or replacement? Are the assessments measuring the learning outcomes? Get permission and save examples of exemplary student work to use as models in future terms.

Technical Expectations

Provide technical updates as you receive them from the university.

checkbox  Announce information related to interruptions of access to servers delivering course materials in advance.
checkbox  Direct students to the Help Desk for technical support with email and the courseware management system.

Consistently address universal accessibility.

checkbox  Create an accessible online course where individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the educational environment.
Continue to During the last week of the online course