To support instructors needing to make a quick transition to utilizing an online environment, we’re offering resources and recommendations that can be immediately put to use by instructors, to benefit both faculty and their students.

These resources are divided into six key topic areas for teaching remotely:

  1. Welcoming Students to the online environment and Course Overview
  2. Managing your online presence
  3. Organizing your online course
  4. Planning and facilitating quality discussions
  5. Recording effective microlectures
  6. Engaging students in readings and microlectures

In this blog we focus on the main principles to design your course overview and welcome message.

Three Principles of General Standard #1: Course Overview

1. Course Overview: Students know where to start and find things


2. Instructions: Instructors and Students 



3. Expectations and Policies: Skills, Tools, & Resources

Principle #1: Course Overview – Students Know Where to Start and Find Things

Best Practice Strategies:

  1. Create a welcome message- Create a welcome message to calm your students’ fears and let them know that you are committed to their continued success. Share how you intend to support them in the course and include any directions or resources students will need to get started. Be sure to include how to best communicate with you.
  2. “Start here” – provide clear instructions on how to get started (top of main page/landing page/home page)
  3. Provide a Course Overview/Introduction module
      • Course video tour (how to navigate and find things)-Create a video that takes your students on a tour of your course. The following are helpful items to include:
        • Preparing for online learning
        • Directions on navigating your online course 
        • Weekly communication expectations
      • A quiz/scavenger hunt on the syllabus (e.g., LMS quiz, Kahoot game, discussion forum on LMS, Zoom breakout rooms)
  4. Create Question-and-Answer and Social Forums- You can encourage students interaction with you and with their peers in an online course by creating a question-and-answer forum in which students can post general questions about the course and assignments. 

Principle #2: Introductions – Instructor and Students Get to Know Each Other

Best Practice Strategies:

  1. Instructor Introduction Video
  • Include name, title, ways to contact you, expertise/research interests, passion for the course, personal info (humanize yourself)
  • Tip: Make it an interactive experience
    • Add a short quiz
    • Connect to a discussion board
  1. Student Introductions
  • Text Intros – If using discussion forum, think of asking them to add images to “liven” it up, or ask them to share one fun fact about X
  • Video Intros (e.g., Flipgrid, VoiceThread)
  • Visual Intros (e.g., Padlet, Thinglink)
  • Tips:
    • Give clear instructions and state purpose of activity
    • Create groups (3-8 vs 15-20) if large class 
    • Instructor response to student intros 

Principle #3: Expectations and Policies: Skills, Tools, & Resources

What expectations and policies?

  • Communication expectations for online discussions, email, and other forms of interaction
  • Course and institutional policies
  • Minimum technology requirements and how to obtain technologies
  • Tutorial on required technologies
  • Computer and digital literacy skills
  • Prerequisite knowledge or required competencies

Best Practice Strategies:

  • Include in syllabus/LMS page in Course Overview module
  • Discuss in Course Introduction video
  • Use visual diagrams/charts
  • Incorporate check of understanding (via scavenger hunt/quiz on syllabus)
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