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Best Practices | Tips for Online Course Delivery

Organizing E-mail

  • Establish conventions for e-mail subject lines
    (e.g., “Re: ECO2210 – Assignment 1”).
  • Request that students use consistent attachment formats
    (e.g., MS Word or Rich Text Format).
  • Inform students about how rapidly you will respond to their messages.
  • Set up ground rules for appropriate and inappropriate interaction online.
  • Manage messages by creating “rules,” “labels,” or “filters” in your e-mail program.
  • Keep a record of important correspondence between you and your students.

Organizing Discussions Online

  • Define clear goals for discussions.
  • Organize online discussions by topic and category.
  • Establish clear expectations for assessing student performance in online discussions.
  • Define a clear start time and end time for synchronous discussions (chat).
  • Design questions for discussion ahead of time.
  • Summarize the main points students should have learned.

Course Management Software-Canvas

  • Identify which features (tools) you will use and what teaching purpose they will serve.
  • Start by using a few features (e.g., “Announcements” and "Course Documents”) and then add more complex tools.
  • Utilize support services: (CIRT homepage)

Assessment and Feedback on Student Learning

  • Use the Canvas Quizzes feature to collect information about students or get formative feedback on the course. 
  • Provide formative feedback to students on their learning using communications tools.
  • Use Canvas Quizzes to deploy quizzes, tests, or polls to students or Assignments  to collect graded assignments.

Problem Sets

  • Students doing written problem sets may be able to submit their answers to you electronically, but note that you may not be able to see how they solved the problem. To help them see where they made errors, you may scan and post solutions, have students check their own work, and ask them to contact you with specific questions.

Guidelines for Faculty to Give Students for Participation Online

Students should be careful to:

  • Use friendly but formal language appropriate for class.
  • Remember the goals for discussion and stay on topic; let others know when starting a new topic.
  • Respect privacy; get permission before forwarding others' messages.
  • Use humor, sarcasm, and irony sparingly because the absence of face-to-face cues may cause misunderstanding.
  • Think before responding and avoid impulsive statements.
  • Respect differences in opinions and the diversity of the group.

Adapted from Zhu and Kaplan (2006). Technology and teaching. In W. J. McKeachie & M. Svinicki (Eds.), McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers (pp. 229-251). New York: Houghton Mifflin