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MSU Online Teaching Preparation Checklist


The MSU Online Teaching Preparation Checklist is intended to support faculty with expertise in face-to-face teaching as they re-develop their courses for online teaching. The checklist is aligned with the MSU Canvas Universal Guidelines, ITDS’ guidance on preparing for online, and with the most frequently cited teaching and learning principles (including evidence-based principles of learning from Robert Gagne, Arthur Chickering & Zelda Gamson, Peralta Online Equity Initiative, and the How Learning Works Applied Neuroscience partnership with Digital Promise). We also include the components most experienced online teachers identify as essential.

This F2F to Online Checklist is designed to enable faculty to use it in a few ways:


Consistently design and organize course in CANVAS
  • Modules that chunk course content into smaller units, organized by learning objective(s), content, time period, or major assessments.
  • Inclusion of due dates for all activities and assignments.
  • Strategic use of repetition within modules, enabling students to learn your system for providing instruction and engagement, and for assessing student learning.
  • Aligning assessments with course learning objective(s) and module content and activities.
  • Providing consistent, uncomplicated aesthetic design that communicates course information clearly and demonstrates professionalism.
Foster engagement through active learning
  • Varying the ways content is delivered: readings, demonstrations, videos, presentations, podcasts, etc. Active learning = doing.
  • Drawing connections between course content and the real-world, authentic learning, encouraging students to identify applications to their own contexts.
  • Following content delivery with engagement activities and assignments (doing/applying).
  • Practicing or apply course content to gain facility, improve skills, and/or achieve learning objectives.
  • Requiring frequent peer-to-peer interaction in more than one modality.
  • Demonstrating faculty presence by engaging with students in multiple ways.
Redesign your assessments for the online environment
  • Ensuring that assessments are aligned with both course content and student learning outcomes.
  • Including many formative assessments for engagement and to enable students to gain an understanding of their own learning progress
  • Emphasizing and rewarding time on task — time plus energy equals learning.
  • Providing rubrics or other methods for students to understand evaluative criteria.
  • Spacing out due dates for assignments to support consistent, manageable pacing.
  • Completing assessment grading within a defined and announced period of time to ensure student awareness of progress.
  • Reviewing Canvas Gradebook set-up to ensure it provides accurate grade-to-date information
Check that you have the technological capabilities for engagement and motivation of students
  • Post accessible course content.
  • Create video lessons, or post professional, carefully curated videos.
  • Run synchronous video conferencing, including usage of break-out rooms, polls, and other tools to enhance engagement, as well as recording and re-posting.
  • Communicate through Canvas Announcements and email.
  • Design online assessments appropriate to the course.
  • Provide discipline-specific engagement — through a disciplinary organization, nonprofit educational associations, and/or publisher-provided online content.
  • Facilitate peer-to-peer interaction and collaboration through such tools as Google Suite collaboration tools, Canvas discussion boards, Wikis, digital whiteboard, Padlet, student-student video conferencing, Groupme, or other group text service.
  • Explain or provide technical support or resources for all tools used.
Support diverse learners and ensure accessibility
  • Designing for accessibility: providing course content and activities in multiple formats, and allowing students to demonstrate learning and engagement in multiple formats
  • Making hard-copy content accessible.
  • Magnifying text displayed live (14pt font or larger).
  • Use image descriptions and alt-text for all images and videos
  • Captions and/or transcripts for all videos.
  • PDFs with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for screen reader access
  • Checking for screen reader accessibility with a tool such as WebAIM.
  • Ensuring that course materials are accessible to screen readers and other assistive technologies.
Professionalize course design
  • Checking that links work.
  • Making sure left navigation items that are visible to students are populated.
  • Publishing modules, assignments, and assessments in a timely fashion.


Online and Hybrid Teaching resources are available from the ITDS team.

Contact us for assistance and support in implementing any of these steps into your teaching plan.

Updated 7.22.21






Featured image source: “bs-iv-folie-10-checkliste” by algogenius is licensed under CC BY 2.0