- Make sure assignments are “online ready” — If you used to teach this class face-to-face, update your instructions to ensure they’re appropriate for the online learning context.
- Check your instructions — Ask a friend, a colleague, or a CTL staffer to read your assignments and to explain in their own words students need to do. Is this what you intended?
- Strike a balance — Will you release your materials every week or all of the information at once? Are you striking a balance between giving students enough information and overwhelming them? (Ko and Rosen 147)
- Do some user testing — You might ask someone to navigate your course platform while you watch them do it, or show them around your course platform using the Zoom screen sharing function. Can they find what they need? What does this feedback tell you about what you might want to adjust?
- Make sure students know how to contact you — Make it clear—in several places!— how and when students can contact you, and by when they can expect a response.
- Make sure students can contact each other — Set up a space on your platform where students can ‘drop in’ with questions, and / or a space where they can ask each other questions without your oversight. You could set up a class directory with students’ emails, pictures, and majors. Just make sure that students are able to talk to each other.
- Send out a welcome email — About a week before class begins, send an email to your students welcoming them to your class.
- Check for consistency and clarity — Is your attendance policy (and how “attendance” is defined in your class) clear? Is it clear how students should make up missed work or missed class time? Make sure you have translated your policies for the distance learning context. Revisit our guidance on attendance and participation in the online classroom for more info.
- Double check your language — Check out the Accessible Syllabus’s recommendations on choosing positive, cooperative, and invitational language in your policy descriptions.
- Do a visual scan — Are there sections of your course site, syllabus, assignment instructions, etc. that are very text-heavy? If so, can you break up the text with images, bullet points, or other design elements?
- Add a basic needs statement — Become knowledge about the on-campus resources that are available to students with basic needs insecurities (i.e. food pantry services, emergency student funding sources, etc.)? Consider adding a basic needs security statement to your syllabus.
Goldrick-Rab, Sara. “Basic Needs Security and the Syllabus.” Medium. 2017. Web.
Ko, Susan S, and Steve Rossen. Teaching Online: A Practical Guide. 2017. Web.
Womack, Ann-Marie, Annelise Blanchard, Cassie Wang and Mary Catherine Jessee. Accessible Syllabus. Tulane Center for Engaged
Learning and Newcomb College Institute, Media Internship Program, 2015. Web.