We are happy to meet with faculty who are interested in building a new course, revising an existing course, or want to discuss ways to integrate new technology into their teaching practice. We are also available to help faculty work through related issues, such as:
preparing a syllabus
aligning assignment objectives to course objectives
methods for assessing student learning
collecting and using student feedback throughout the semester
increasing student engagement
Course design support and other consultation services can be tailored to your needs, whether they are met in a single session or over the course of a semester or academic year. Contact Martin Springborg to set up an initial consultation, during which we will go over your needs and course objectives.
The following resources are for faculty teaching online. They provide an introduction to evidence-based effective practices from current higher education and educational development literature.
When you teach in person, you don’t leave students to their own devices. You’re with them, engaging in any number of teacherly activities: explaining, guiding, asking, illustrating, answering questions.
Written content is inevitably part of any online course, but strive to use a unique voice in your writing. Mini-lectures, assignment instructions, answers to questions, weekly announcements — you can write those in such a way as to represent your true self.
Whether by audio or video, capture your expertise, your empathy, your teacher persona in a way that comes across with much more impact than in writing. These recordings don't have to be professionally produced, and you don't have to have a video in every module. Instead, start small. For example, record a quick introduction and greeting to include in the "Start Here"" module of your course.
Ask experienced online-faculty members or campus instructional designers to go in and poke around as if they were students. You’ll be surprised at what they might see that you can’t — a confusing organization of course materials, an overly intimidating tone in textual instructions, a lack of clarity on what to do first to get started with the course. Use their observations to help you make a few tweaks.
Compare the organization and support services of your in-person courses with what you provide in your online teaching. In both contexts, there should be a method to your madness that is not hidden from students. The design and sequence of content and learning activities in both realms should be methodical, systematic, and purposeful.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to enhance course appearance. A little attention to presentation goes a long way. Do you have a lot of written lecture notes or instructions? Break up long chunks of text with subheads and space between paragraphs. Embed relevant images. Include thumbnail videos that you’ve either created or sourced from YouTube, news sites, or library resources. Aim for attractive yet appropriate.
Scrutinize your assessments, both large and small. Have your students had the opportunity to build — step by step, as they would in an in-person classroom — the knowledge and skills they will need do well on those assessments?
Look for ways to break down complex tasks so that students make timely progress and receive feedback on their work while there is still time to adjust their approach if needed.
How many examples should you provide? Lots of them, wherever possible. You may want to make some examples optional or supplemental, for students who want more help.
In addition to sharing explanations of concepts, give as many examples of previous students’ work as appropriate. Show their full work or just pieces. For a persuasive essay, you can show examples of effective introductions; for a complex clinical process, provide work showing only the first step.
Participate in workshops offered by your institution’s teaching-and-learning center.
Join book-discussion groups with your colleagues to delve into books about effective online-teaching strategies.
Subscribe to teaching-related newsletters, such as Faculty Focus and The Chronicle’s Teaching Newsletter. Sometimes they feature articles specifically related to online teaching; other times, reading about a new approach in the physical classroom leads to an idea for your online teaching.
Explore best practices presented in the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository.
"What Works Well in Online Teaching" was developed by members of the Minnesota State Faculty Development Committee (a statewide standing committee of the Academic Affairs Council) to promote reflection and dialogue about effective online teaching practices. This resource provides:
A description of effective practices specific to instruction delivered online
Guidance for new and experienced online or hybrid/blended instructors
An opportunity for reflection and dialogue about online teaching
An opportunity to align online courses or course components with shared standards of best practice and instructional design principles
Use a Checklist
Feel like you need a checklist? We’ve included the most common online course prep tasks in a pre-semester checklist, complete with links to tutorials and further resources. You're welcome!