Planning Your Course

Plan Your Course | Build Your Course | Engage Students | Assess Students | Ensure Accessibility

In this section:


Getting ready for teaching and learning online

Many tools and support resources are available to help you move your classes online, engage your students in remote learning and meet course learning objectives. Most of the activities can be implemented through Quercus. The guidance provided in this section focuses on assessing you and your students’ readiness for the move to teaching and learning in an online context.

Key Concepts:

Preparing yourself
Depending on your previous experience, you may need to become familiar with new tools or refresh your skills to fast track migration of your course to an online format. Decisions regarding changes should be realistic and aligned with your experience and skill level. Assess your own readiness and the time you have available for adapting your course for the coming term.

Consider:

  • Am I confident in my Quercus skills?
  • Do I have the know-how to make simple videos?
  • Am I ready to choose between synchronous (real time) and asynchronous (recorded or text) options?
  • Do I want to build my own course shell from scratch, or should I download and adapt an example online course shell template?

Try this:

  • Review basic design guides and tutorials before you begin planning.
  • Explore examples and ideas from colleagues who teach online.
  • Keep it simple with the most common and basic tools, if you are new to teaching online.

How to:

Preparing your students
As our students find themselves participating exclusively in online courses, many may not be fully prepared or equipped for the current situation.

Consider:

  • Keep in mind the technical resources and the online learning skills that students will need to succeed in your course.
  • Students may have access to varying technological devices which may be impacted by families that are sharing devices at home for online learning.
  • Students may have a diverse range of family responsibilities, which may impact their learning.

Try this:

  • Plan to provide extra support and scaffolding, such as extra online office hours, as students adjust to learning online.
  • Provide guides for students regarding readiness for online learning.
  • Include information about required technology and skills in your course syllabus.
  • Direct students to additional technology and skill tutorials such as LinkedIn Learning or other online resource sites.
  • Ensure you are planning course activities that will be accessible to all your learners, including those with disabilities

How to:


Making basic course format decisions

In the design process, focus on the most important learning outcomes for your students, and be prepared to adapt classroom activities to new types of activities that are appropriate to the online environment. Creating a simple course migration plan before you begin to move your course online will speed up the development process in Quercus.

Key Concept:

Create a plan for moving content, activities and assessments online
When moving to an online environment, it is important to focus on the most important learning outcomes and identify the corresponding activities that will support students in their learning. It may be necessary to let go of some elements of a classroom-based experience that cannot be replicated in the online environment and introduce new components.

Consider:

  • Students learn by doing through active learning pedagogies.
  • In addition to providing foundational content, plan for activities that allow students to engage with that content and receive feedback on their progress.
  • Students can learn through direct instruction from you, or through peer interaction with each other.

Try this:

  • Identify the critical learning outcomes for your students. This is not just the content to be “covered” but also the skills they will need to succeed in the course.
  • Decide on the assessments early in the planning process (See section 3)
  • Include progressive steps in each week/module to build student skills and support success in assessments (i.e. sequence of lecturette, short quiz, application of theory, discussion to debrief).
  • Create a flexible and open structure to accommodate students with varied needs.
  • Determine if your redesigned course will use synchronous (real time) or asynchronous (recorded or text) options or combine elements of both.

How to:

 

Developed collaboratively by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and Online Learning Strategies – Information Technology Services at the University of Toronto (April 14, 2020).