faculty member teaching an online course

New to Online?

Teaching your first online or hybrid course can feel like a daunting feat. Working with an instructional designer can help guide you in the right direction to ensure that you build an accessible, well-organized, and interactive online or hybrid course. Planning a course for any modality begins with basic course design. Starting with the end in mind, what will students know, value, or be able to do as a result of taking your course? Course goals and learning objectives inform your instructional decisions. Course materials, activities, and assessments should all align.

  • Course goals are clearly articulated
  • Learning objectives are clear, measurable, and appropriate to course goals.
  • Assessments provide students opportunity to demonstrate evidence of learning outcomes.
  • Course activities and materials provide students opportunities to develop learning outcomes.

Resources to Help you Get Started

Proficiency with Instructional Technologies

  • Take a Canvas workshop to familiarize yourself with the features to support teaching and learning.
  • Start working with the MSU Canvas Course Template for your course to customize it using modules.
  • Review the Canvas Faculty Orientation, a resource for you to reference anytime.
  • Learn how to use instructional technologies which benefit your unique approaches to teaching. Our Instructional Technologies page is a good place to start. We offer workshops focused on many tools that support online and hybrid teaching.

Pedagogical Practices for Online & Hybrid Teaching

  • Participate in the Empowering Online/Hybrid Teaching and Learning (EOTL) program. This is a three-week online, asynchronous course intended to provide faculty with strategies and best practices for designing and teaching high-quality, learner-centered online and hybrid courses at Montclair State University. The cohort experience allows for a rich exchange of ideas and practices between faculty peers across the university.
  • Familiarize yourself with quality assurance in online learning. How do we know if our courses are well designed? What do the best online instructors do?

Workshops Specific to Online & Hybrid Teaching

ITDS offers a number of workshops that serve as a foundational resource for online and hybrid course development and teaching practice at Montclair State University. Some descriptions of workshops we currently offer tailored to online and hybrid teaching can be located below:

  • Engaging Students in Online Discussions: This session introduces pedagogical strategies and practices to facilitate effective online discussions either to extend engaging interactions beyond classroom or enhance learning experience in asynchronous/synchronous environments. Specific tools, such as Canvas Discussions and Perusall, will be demonstrated to illustrate how to build an effective social learning environment.
  • Designing Activities to Promote Teamwork and Collaboration: How can we engage students in an online environment? In this workshop, we will discuss some active learning strategies and tools to promote student engagement by transforming your class activities into an online or hybrid environment. We will introduce online role play, student group presentations and some best practices for online teamwork. We will also demonstrate how to use Padlet and Google Slides to facilitate teamwork.
  • Creating Engaging DIY Videos: This session will offer tips on how to plan lectures and provide best practices for video and audio recording for effective instructor presence online.

Our instructional designers are available to meet with you one-on-one as you prepare to teach online or hybrid. We offer support on a variety of services and encourage you to select a time that works best for you.

One-on-one Course Design Consultations

Key Questions for Planning Your Online or Hybrid Course

The key questions and considerations provide insight on how to facilitate an inclusive and engaging online learning experience.

  • How Will You Deliver Your Course? Determine what will be asynchronous or synchronous course activities and communicate the expectations for these interactions clearly (e.g., meeting times, due dates, and other expectations for course participation).
  • How Will You Build Community and Social Presence? In addition to welcoming activities (e.g., self-introduction discussion or pre-course survey), provide a space for students to ask and answer each other’s course-related questions in a Q&A discussion board. Encourage photos and the use of video in online discussions when appropriate.
  • How Will You Establish Teaching Presence? Consider creating a course welcome video. Use announcements to regularly communicate course updates and other course information (e.g., beginning, middle, and end of module announcements). Set up regular virtual office hours. Provide ongoing individual and group feedback through various methods (e.g., through Canvas speedgrader on student assignments, in office hours, within discussion boards, and through the announcements tool).
  • How Will You Engage Students? Include multiple, meaningful opportunities for students to interact with each other and the course content as a community of inquiry. Vary course activities to allow students to develop and demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
    • Engage Students with Course Content. Create and share a range of instructional materials that are accessible in multiple formats (videos with closed captioning, live sessions that you record and make available). Share relevant and current media that reflects or illustrates course topics. Use Panopto to create interactive lecture-capture videos for students to test their knowledge or share their thoughts. Try Perusall to have students annotate course readings with questions and insights. Consider having students generate content by prompting them to curate resources in an online space such as a Canvas Discussion or Padlet. If having real-time meetings, consider bringing in a guest speaker and use active learning techniques to allow students to apply what they are learning (e.g., prompt students to post questions and comments in chat).
    • Engage Students in Online Discussions. Use open-ended prompts that encourage students to synthesize their own experiences with course content. Model effective communication to generate ideas and promote critical thinking, such as by asking questions, pointing out tensions, or drawing connections between posts. Consider norm-building activities to promote robust contributions (e.g., Help students identify the characteristics of a good contribution by having them comment on sample posts that represent a poor, an average, and a stellar contribution. Use a rubric to give feedback on student discussions) Make initial discussion responses due before the module is complete so students can read and respond to their peers before the week’s end. Break students into smaller discussion groups if you have a larger class (6-10 is a nice size for online discussions). If discussing in real-time, consider using breakout rooms and having students report back a summary of their discussions either orally or through the chat.
    • Engage Students in Collaborations and Group Work. Some examples of group work include working through case studies, delivering group presentations, or creating products collaboratively. Canvas groups can be set up to facilitate group communication and collaboration. For courses that have real-time meetups, consider using some of the time when everyone is together to work on and get feedback on their tasks.
    • Engage Students with Ongoing Support. There may be times in the course when things get difficult, such as busy times in the semester, when you reach expected bottlenecks, or when larger assignments are due. Some ideas to support students during these challenges is to set up synchronous working sessions to check in with students and give feedback on progress. Faculty have also created announcement messages with small pep talks and tips and tricks for success. Regularly invite students to reach out and share your preferred method of contact. Require students (individually or in small groups) to sign up for virtual office hours.
  • How Will You Assess Students? Include both formative (non-graded) and summative (graded) assessments to allow students to demonstrate and get feedback on their learning in a variety of ways. Provide clear descriptions for course assessments and provide accompanying rubrics that define expectations and progress toward learning outcomes. Consider authentic assessments (i.e., assessments that replicate what one might actually do in an academic or professional setting). For example, having an open book test more realistically reflects how one might find, assess, and apply referenced material for a specific purpose. But if you need to use more traditional quizzes, tests, and exams, make them lower stakes and spread them out throughout the course. Consider other tips on how to structure your online assessments to promote academic integrity.

A Checklist for Setting Up Your Canvas Course