Building Your Course
In this section:
Create a course introduction to support learners’ comfort with the activities you’ve planned. The introduction will provide a ‘front door’ to your course and the communication protocols you establish. Design your course site to facilitate easy navigation for your students.
Take a student-centred and supportive approach
Your students may be experiencing different situations that could impact their learning. As an instructor, you play a key role in students’ learning experiences.
- Setting the tone is important, just as it is on the first day of a face-to-face course.
- Students look to you to provide direction, feedback and encouragement as you guide them on their course journey.
- As an instructor, you can provide guidance to students regarding expectations related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. (PDF)
- Include a welcome video that introduces yourself and the course, and sets a positive tone for the semester
- Link students to tips on online learning, including Getting Ready for Online (a student-facing web resource)
- Describe your availability and method by which students should communicate with you (e.g., email, discussion forum, online or virtual office hours) – provide flexibility by offering a variety of methods for students to connect.
- Include an opening survey to check for students’ prior knowledge and/or experience in an online environment. (For example, are you a major or non-major? What technologies do you have available at home? How reliable is your internet access/connection?)
- Make a video using Quercus rich content editor video tool [guide].
- Make a course tour video using Snagit lecture capture software.
- Example: Creating a Course Tour using Lecture Capture Software (video 2:23 min)
- Use Quercus quiz tool to implement an ungraded survey to gather information about your learners.
- Offer a sign-up schedule for office hours using the Quercus calendar tool.
Ensure navigation and structure are clear
Students need to find information and materials easily to succeed in the course.
- Your Quercus home page can provide an effective base for the overall organization of your course.
- Students will appreciate provision of multiple access points or repetition of key information.
- Ensure the home page has clear information regarding course navigation and key resources.
- Plan overall navigation of the course for ease of use/organization/access; remove unnecessary links.
- Include information about course participation “netiquette” or group agreements.
- Include an FAQ page or discussion forum for general questions.
- Create a “course tour” using video or PowerPoint to help students learn how your course site is organized on Quercus.
- How do I change my course home page? [guide]
- Set up Quercus discussion forums [guide]
Consistency in module design and pace helps students quickly understand your expectations, plan their work time more effectively and reduce their cognitive load.
Organize course content into modules and content chunks
Modules provide a linear structure that helps students navigate course content and activities. Modules can be organized by week, topic/theme, or type of activity.
- Sequence modules and module content to establish a clear path for activities and assignments.
- Share expectations of the time and effort required to complete each module.
- Present video and other digital content in short segments to maintain student attention and increase comprehension.
- State the core learning goals for each course module.
- Create a learner to-do list for each module.
- Scaffold the modules so that each one builds on the previous one
- Create an Introductory or Course Resources module for reference items
- Establish sequencing with Prerequisites and Requirements
- In each module, consider including the following:
- Content acquisition: lecture notes, readings, videos or student generated content
- Scaffolded learning activities: examples/demonstrations; visual aids; glossary of topic-specific vocabulary
- Check for understanding: reflections, quizzes, question and answer opportunity
- Quercus Modules and Pages guide [guide]
- Organizing Your Course Content (webinar recording)
- Make students aware of the option to add their own ‘to-dos’ in their Quercus calendars
Determine how course content will be provided to students
A number of strategies are available as alternatives to in-class lectures.
- Being realistic about the time and skills you have available to create digital lecture content is important when planning on a short timeline (Content may be created weekly on a just-in-time basis.)
- There may be existing digital texts or open educational resources that are available at no cost online.
- Ensure that the format of your readings is accessible to students in a remote/online environment and meets copyright compliance.
- Planning for flexibility and accessibility should be a priority to ensure you are reaching all your students.
- Create simple video lectures and make them available to students on Quercus.
- Deliver webinar lectures in real time webinars and record them for students to review after.
- Consult with your liaison librarian to identify existing digital resources that might be used for your course or for library syllabus service.
- Select tools from the Academic Toolbox that support your teaching and learning needs.
- Design content for flexible access by all your students, as they will have a range of abilities, technologies and bandwidth capacity to access digital content.
- Review “Making your content accessible” section of this document for captioning strategies.
- Planning and Creating Your Online Course (webinar recording)
- Contact the library for UTL syllabus services and support for remote teaching
- Choose online format: Moving Online: Asynchronous and Synchronous Lecture Options (video 6:12 min)
- Post a pre-recorded video presentation.
- Record webcam for quick messaging and announcements.
- Upload and host video content.
- UTL MyMedia (for U of T faculty, staff and students)
- Create a channel on YouTube and upload video to YouTube
- Host live sessions online for live lecture, office hour, or question and answer:
- If teaching a large class, visit Large Online/Remote Courses for specialized tips on structuring course content for this teaching context
- If leading a lab, visit Virtual Labs for Online/Remote Courses for specialized tips on content options for this teaching context
Developed collaboratively by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and Online Learning Strategies – Information Technology Services at the University of Toronto (April 14, 2020).