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Teaching Online Courses: Reminders for Professors


Start of the Semester

Mid Semester

End of the Semester

Start-of-the-semester Reminders

1. Have you copied your course successfully?
 Make sure that:

a. there are no duplicate items in the navigation menu;

b. the Discussion Board has no posts from previous semesters;

c. there are no empty folders in the content areas;

d. links for students to submit assignments, to take quizzes and to respond to surveys are active.

2. Are all items in your course legible and accessible?
    Make sure that:

a. all text in Blackboard is in a consistent font, size 12 or bigger;

b. all text color in Blackboard is black (see below for examples);

c. all images and weblinks have "alt tags" describing them;

d. all videos have captions;

e. you follow the guidelines for best practices in creating accessible content;

f. you check all Microsoft Office documents that you create using the built-in accessibility checkers and correct any issues that you find;

g. no essential content requires more than 3 clicks or is buried too many levels deep in the course.

For more information about making content accessible, please see the CUNY IT accessibility website.

Examples of ADA level 3 compliant colors:

ADA Blackboard text examples

3. Have you posted a welcome video in a Welcome, Orientation or Getting Started folder?
    Make sure it:

a. tells students where to go for tech support, course-related questions, and course policies;

b. guides students towards reviewing the syllabus and noting major course deadlines in their calendars;

c. reminds students to acknowledge reading the Academic Integrity Policy;

d. tells students to conduct a browser test to ensure Blackboard compatibility;

e. tells students to self-check their skills using Blackboard through the "How well do you know Blackboard?" quiz;

f. informs students where to find assessment rubrics, and how they will be applied to their assignments;

g. is warm, inviting and most importantly exudes your personality which will promote student/professor engagement.

4. Have you made the course available?
    Make sure that:

a. the course is open two weeks before the semester starts;

b. students can access at minimum materials for week 1;

c. students can find the syllabus;

d. students can find your contact information;

e. the current announcements are available and ones for later in the semester are not available.

5. Are all the materials current?
 Make sure to:

a. review all weblinks and course links and update the ones that are broken;

b. go through your course content and check it for relevance and currency;

c. change dates of the weeks in the syllabus and weekly folders if you have them listed.


Mid-semester Reminders

1. Have you been maintaining a strong instructor presence in the course?
  Make sure that you:

a. respond to students' emails within the time stated in the syllabus;

b. guide students through course content by introducing new material and making connections to previously learned material;

c. stay active in the course by posting announcements, sending reminders of deadlines, and participating in discussion boards;

d. monitor discussions and enforce rules of netiquette;

e. invite students to online office hours;

f. reach out to individual students who are missing or falling behind;

g. direct students to technology help when appropriate.

2. Have you been helping students self-monitor their progress in the class?
 Make sure that you:

a. give frequent, low-stakes assessments;

b. give meaningful and prompt feedback on student assignments;

c. keep the Grade Center up-to-date;

d. direct students towards viewing their grades and reflecting on their learning.

3. Have you asked for feedback from your students?
 Make sure that:

a. you have made feedback surveys available to the students (e.g., in week 4 and week 8);

b. you make reasonable adjustments to the course based on student feedback.

4. Are you guiding students through long-term or group projects?
 Make sure that you have:

a. given clear instructions and concrete outcomes;

b. set reasonable milestones and required deliverables;

c. offered opportunities to discuss projects individually or as a group in online conference rooms.


End-of-the-semester Reminders

1. Have you encouraged students to complete the course evaluation survey?
    Make sure that:

a. you have posted the link in the last weekly folder of the semester;

b. you have posted an announcement reminding students about it.

2. Have you graded all the assignments?
    Remember that you can:

a. give feedback in audio or video format instead or in addition to written text;

b. speed up the grading process and show students how they scored according to a set criteria by using rubrics.

3. Have you ended the semester with a wrap-up activity?
    Consider asking students to:

a. write reflections about that they learned in a journal;

b. post recommendations for future students of this course in a discussion forum;

c. say good-bye to each other in a discussion forum.

4.Have you made preparations for the following semester?
 While the semester is still fresh in your mind, you can:

a. note activities, materials or technologies that worked well or those that did not work well;

b. mark up instructions that need revising;

c. take down resources that are obsolete;

d. review suggestions that students have offered throughout the semester.

5. Have you completed final course management tasks?
 Make sure you have:

a. submitted students' grades;

b. posted a cordial farewell announcement.