The same thing that makes a good in–person course will make a good online course: engaging materials and activities, clear communication, and opportunities to interact meaningfully with the instructor and other students to form a genuine learning community. While there are guidelines to help instructors decide how best to arrange a course, and what to include in it, there is no cookie-cutter method of good course creation. Consider, instead, the following general guides.
If your strength is that you are a dynamic lecturer, then plan full-body videos with multiple camera angles, and make time in the course schedule for synchronous, live speaking. If your strength lies in prompting and guiding in-depth discussions, consider how to extend class discussion over both synchronous and asynchronous class time. If your strength is in creating engaging cases and problems, for students to apply concepts, consider moving your lectures into video form and using all of your synchronous time for student group-work.
Both LSA and UofM as a whole have teams whose expertise is in how to craft effective learning; these teams can support faculty who are thinking about teaching in a new mode. LSA’s Learning and Teaching Consultants and the Language Resource Center can both help instructors look at what activities and outcomes they want, and plan an effective online approach. LSA also licenses many tools for both in-person and online use, and the Ann Arbor campus has many facilities and services instructors can use. LSA’s Instructional Video team can help plan and produce creative and high-quality course media. BlueCorps maintains an online drop-in meeting as well as their on-campus walk-in desk, and can assist students with the basics of using any instructional technology. And LSA has many other pedagogical resources, such as the Inclusive Teaching site.
Communicating expectations clearly to students is a vital part of an online course, and planning ahead is an important part of that process. When will synchronous meetings happen? What are the course activities, and what will students need to complete them? What can students expect, each week? The housekeeping that happens at the start and end of an in-person class session still needs to be done for an online course, and putting that information in the same place each week, whether that’s the first page in each Canvas module, a weekly announcement, or the first five minutes of every synchronous meeting, will help students stay on track.
Some questions to ask yourself, that may help you arrange your activities to the best effect are:
Group work, for example, will probably be most effective as synchronous work, though long-term projects will need both modes. Any activities focused on reflecting upon or processing course material will be better suited to asynchronous work, when students can work at their own pace and take time to think more deeply. See the Activity and Interaction Hours page for some ideas and examples of high quality interaction.
There is a similar set of questions to help those planning blended courses.
Some resources that instructors may find helpful when considering how to construct an online course:
LSA Guidelines & Best Practices. This guide offers some basic principles and recommendations for LSA instructors teaching online courses.
Quality Matters checklist. The QM rubric is a research-based standard for making fully asynchronous, self-paced courses better learning experiences. The essentials of that rubric, however, apply to any mode of teaching and learning, including synchronous online or in-person courses.
Course Design Review Rubric from OSCQR. This is based on the Quality Matters rubric, but focuses on slightly different course elements and is organized in a way some may find more intuitive.