Online Course Management Strategies

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 Online Course Management Strategies & Tips for Teaching Online

The following document provides faculty with information regarding the expectations of online instructors while managing an online class. Some of the included strategies may not be applicable to a class due to the content/format being used. However, the e-learning department considers meeting the majority of the criteria to be fundamental to providing a quality online class. Instructors are encouraged to review the strategies and utilize the included checklist as a means to assess the management of their own online classes. Course design is not addressed in this document; faculty members are encouraged to submit their courses to the NCCC quality review program to receive guidance on matters of design.

Course Management

Proactive management of an online course is likely to increase engagement and improve student outcomes.

  • Utilize the communication tools within the LMS to inform and support your students. Blackboard provides course messages and email.
    • Course Messages is a form of communication that stays within the LMS but requires the students to access the course.
    • Course Email is sent to the students T-Wolves account and responses are sent to the faculty Outlook email account. Since this form of communication occurs outside of the LMS, we recommend building a folder within Outlook to house course communication.
    • If email notifications are sent through Blackboard’s Retention Center, the outgoing emails will be visible and recorded in Blackboard course.
  • Select a communication tool and provide the students with directions for using this
  • Course announcements can also be used for class notifications. This tool keeps the content within the course and allows you to send the information as an email to students at the same time. Select “Send a copy of this announcement immediately” checkbox in all announcements that you would like to send to their T-Wolves email.
  • Provide prompt responses to emails from students. If all students would benefit from hearing your response, make a suitable post in a General Q&A discussion thread were general questions/answers can be posted.
  • Utilize the built-in Blackboard grading rubrics for assignments. This will provide clear expectations to students and reduce grading times.
  • Rate all discussion posts using discussion rubric and grade the forum holistically.
  • Provide students with examples of exemplary work, with an explanation of how grades/points were awarded.
  • Utilize the Blackboard Retention Center reports to identify absent students and to provide timely alerts to approaching deadlines.
  • Periodically provide students communications that remind them of expected progress to date.
  • Provide opportunities for synchronous communication outside of office hours. Utilize online tools to provide video/voice/text chat meeting opportunities to individuals/groups/class. The eLearning Department has a tool called Go-To-Meeting that can be used for synchronous communication.
  • Periodically review any third-party/outside resources and ensure functionality. Make sure third-party content is accessible.   Check videos for closed captions and/or available transcripts.
  • End of Course – Request that students provide advice to future students – what advice do they wish they had received before taking the class?
    • What required the most effort?
    • What consumed the most time?
  • Encourage students to report any substantive errors in the course materials.

Instructor Presence

An online class without suitable instructor presence equates to a correspondence course. Active participation and synchronous activities are the ones that make the class interactive.

  • Provide a course welcome document, including a self-introduction that goes beyond text. Utilize video, voice, and/or images to provide students with an insight of who you are. You have only one chance to make a first impression.
  • Participate in ice breaker exercises, initiate the concept of a class community, and share emotion/humor/personality when appropriate and encourage students to do the same.
  • Release periodic course announcements/reminders via Blackboard announcements and course mail. Don’t nag, but indicate expected progression through the module/course to keep students on track.
  • Provide periodic reminders and links to avenues of support; include previous students’ feedback if available.
  • Send Individualized emails to students (if class size permits); ask how they are progressing and if they have any questions.
  • Provide prompt/frequent class discussion posts; quote or refer to student posts.
  • Provide encouragement; include compliments and expressions of appreciation.
  • Feedback should be respectful, constructive, and meaningful. Refer/link to rubric or assessment criteria in use.
  • When appropriate, provide feedback through alternative media, video, or audio.
  • Periodically provide students with a summation of work to date, a module/chapter wrap up before moving forward.
  • Advertise opportunities for synchronous communication outside of office hours.

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