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Managing Your Online Course: What to do? When to do it?

Distance Learning -- Mon, 08/18/2014 - 12:00am

These steps explore what to do at different points before, during, and after you design / deliver an online course.

Several Weeks Before Your Class Begins

  1. Review Best Practices and Expectations for Online Teaching
  2. Make a new copy of your Moodle course (ie: import your sandbox or previous semester into the appropriate course section for the “live” semester).
  3. Review your course content and click each link to make sure that all internal (within Moodle) and external (outside of Moodle) links are working and connect to current information. Fix any broken hyperlinks, images, etc. and update information as necessary.
  4. Update your syllabus and any other instructor-specific course materials.
  5. Update your course calendar. Many faculty use the Moodle “Calendar” tool to help students see important due dates. Others prefer to include that information on their syllabus or on Moodle page. Regardless of location, busy students appreciate having this information updated and accurate! Keep your calendar in no more than two places (e.g. PDF and Moodle calendar) to reduce opportunity for an old document to be posted.
  6. Reactivate your Library Reserves (if applicable). Contact the Distance Learning Librarian for questions about LibGuides for students and educators, as well as for questions about electronic journals and resources.
  7. Set up your Moodle Gradebook: For more information, visit the IT Help Desk’s Managing Grades page
  8. Make sure the course is coded HY (hybrid) or OL (online); your department head will handle course coding.

One Week Before the Class Starts

A standard practice for online courses is to give students an “orientation period” — access to the class one or two days before it officially begins. This practice enables distance learners to try out their UL Lafayette CLID and to familiarize themselves with the class environment so that they will be comfortable and ready to learn on the first day of class.

  1. By default, a new class section is not visible to students, meaning that registered students will not be able to see it when they log in to Moodle. As the instructor of record, you are responsible for making the course available so students can access it. NOTE: Students are automatically enrolled into a Moodle course upon registration.
  2. Make the courseavailable” so that the link to the course will be visible to students
  3. Hide any course materials you do not wish the students to view yet. If there are any materials that you are not ready to have students view, it is possible to “hide” materials in Moodle by closing the “eye” icon on an entire section or a specific resource.
  4. Provide formal orientation materials (Getting Started / Welcome) to help your students get used to your class and the class environment. This should include a “Welcome” announcement for your students (ideally go wherever you think your students will “land” when they first enter your course). Many faculty like to use the “News Forum” in Moodle for this purpose, but others create a video or upload a welcome letter.
  • Need help? See “How do I send email to my students?” Note that all announcements will show up in your course and also will be emailed to students.
  • Things to include in the welcome announcement might be:
  • The URL/location of the syllabus and course calendar
  • The official start date of the course
  • What materials they need to purchase and where they can get them
  • Who to contact if they need technical assistance (Students should access the IT Help Desk)
  • Explain course prerequisites
  • Notify them of any required synchronous web-based events (and any associated fees, equipment, software, and Internet speed connection requirements)
  • Notify them if proctoring will be used (and any associated fees, equipment, software, and Internet speed connection requirements)

During the First Week of Class

Most courses begin by asking students to post a self-introduction to a class discussion forum as a way to break the ice and begin to build a sense of community. This is also a great way for the instructor to get a feel for who the students are and what experience and expectations they bring to the course.

  1. Make your own “personal introduction” post to the class to get the ball rolling. In your post, tell students what information you would like them to include in their own introductions.
  2. Review the personal introductions that your students post to the class discussion forum and respond to each, or to the entire class in a single note, as a way of welcome.
  3. Summarize the postings for your class by posting a note to the appropriate discussion forum or send an e-mail to all students, sharing what you’ve learned about the class make-up and addressing their class expectations (e.g., “Several of you stated that you hoped to learn more about XYZ in this class. While we won’t be covering XYZ specifically, we will address the more general issue of…”)
  4. Contact students who have not yet accessed your Moodle site. In Moodle, you can view the logs and participant list to see who has, and has not, accessed your course. If a student hasn’t accessed the course yet, there may be a problem that needs your attention.

This information was modified from information provided here: