Today, online learning is more than an attractive option for a narrow group of learners or an emergency response to the pandemic; it is an essential element of higher education. Except for the traditional in-person instruction, which may still be supplemented with online components (Canvas, virtual office hours), all learning formats include some form of online learning.

Moving from one format to another is not as straightforward as holding Zoom classes to replace an in-person classroom. Some components of your face-to-face course may remain the same, whereas others may need to adapt to fit the new ways students will connect with you, the course materials, and each other. Online course design can follow a set model for chunking your content, converting courses to an online format, or shortening/lengthening a course. Or, the course design can be free-form depending on your needs. Depending on what you are teaching and your teaching style, you will need to consider both the essentials you want to recreate in the online format and the aspects of the learning experience you might modify.

Regardless of whether the course is 6 weeks or 15 weeks, there are six basic components of an online course:

  1. Course Overview and Information
  2. Course Technology and Tools
  3. Design and Layout in the LMS
  4. Content and Activities
  5. Interaction –  Community of Inquiry Checklist (Student to Content, Student to Student, Student to Instructor)
  6. Assessment and Feedback

Three factors contribute to student retention and satisfaction with online courses:

  1. Engaged Learning: Facilitate active learning with your students. It encourages student agency and ownership in the learning process. This can be done by providing various opportunities and activities to apply knowledge and demonstrate their mastery of the content. (active learning link)
  2. Personal Connections: It is essential to cultivate and foster an inclusive course culture similar to face-to-face environments.  Familiar activities such as ice breakers and discussions are good ways to overcome distance.
    Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s How and Why to Humanize Your Online Class Infographics   
  3. Assessment: Prompt and specific feedback lets students know where they stand and gives them an opportunity to modify their thinking, study habits, and/or effort. A lack of teacher presence is shown to decrease student participation and satisfaction.

If you are not sure whether you are ready to teach online or are still new to the format, SCI IDTS has the tool for you. We have created a self-assessment tool to guide you in reviewing your comfort level in five critical areas for teaching an online course: administrative, design, facilitation, evaluation, and technical skills. At the end of the self-assessment, you will receive the results with links to resources that can help you develop an action plan for areas you want to strengthen your skills. 

Take Instructor Self-Assessment: Preparing for Online Teaching   (Estimated time to complete 5-10 minutes)