A brighter life with our simple program

Effective strategies to make you a better Online Educator


Roadmap for an entrepreneur

The detailed roadmap for building and running a business as an online educator​

Quality learning objectives—objectives that are SMART and aligned—are crucial to teaching effectively online:

  • they are a roadmap with critical directions for students
  • your framework for course development
  • and the student performances that should be the basis for your course assessments.

Learning objectives should guide what you do (and don’t do!) in your course, and it is insufficient on multiple fronts to assume your students benefit from them if they remain only intuitive, or if you rely on publisher’s learning objectives that may or may not have been developed in a pedagogically sound manner.

Plan for accessibility from the start. designing a course that is accessible to all students is critical to creating an inclusive and equitable learning experience and is best considered from the beginning of your course development. Keeping in mind we want to consider the accessibility and usability of the course, and learning some basic, practical skills will go a long way toward future-proofing your course. 

  1. Technical accessibility: are your course materials literally accessible? Are your external links all working?
  2. General accessibility: can your course be effectively taken by anyone, regardless of ability?
    • Documents use common formats and are well-structured, tagged, and designed for alternative interfaces such as screen readers used by the visually impaired
    • The information conveyed by graphs, charts, infographics and other complex visual media is provided in other forms
    • Images have “alt text” for screen readers
    • Multimedia is captioned or accompanied by transcripts

A unit is an individual part of the sequence of the curriculum in your course. For convenience, most instructors think of units in terms of weeks, with each unit being one week of material. 

The Units section of your course should be the home of the rest of your course content. Using Units is important for consistency from course-to-course and for navigation and access within a course. Think of the Unit as a container that can hold pages, quizzes, discussion boards, links to other sites, and links to files, all in a hierarchy. 

Chunking course materials means breaking down the presentation and pacing of your curriculum in a way that reduces the cognitive load on your students. Breaking your course materials into units, using formatting tools to make long documents more accessible, and using presentation techniques to convey importance are all a part of chunking your course materials.

Chunking content is important in any learning environment.  It allows students to engage with information in smaller, meaningful sections.  We don’t want to cognitively overwhelm or overload students.  As you design your course, carefully consider the best way to chunk the material.  Many online instructors breakdown course content into weekly modules.

  • As you develop pages, it is important to chunk information.  This can be accomplished through the use of:
    • Headings
    • Subheadings
    • Short paragraphs
    • Bold fonts
    • Bullets
    • Images
    • Spacing

Scaffolding is a similar concept addressing the pedagogy of your assignments and assessments: breaking them into smaller, cooperative pieces that provide opportunities for formative assessment and facilitate students achieving the learning goals you intend.

Scaffolding is a strategy used in education to help students reach their learning goals.  Through peer collaboration and instructor support, students move from their current skillset to building an understanding of course content.  Ideally, engagement with peers and the instructor helps the student develop skills he/she would not be able to acquire on their own.  You should be intentional as you design your course with scaffolding strategies in mind. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Discussion Forums
    • When using discussions, provide specific rules for interaction. Students should be required to read and respond to each other. After an initial post, set a minimum number of required responses to peers. Discussions allow students to share knowledge and build additional insight.
      Provide students with examples of excellent discussion postings. Also, consider modeling appropriate interactions. Students will observe how you interact and learn from it.
  2. Projects/Research Papers
    • Sometimes, students complete activities and you realize it wasn’t at all what you expected.  This can happen in any course.  To avoid these issues, large projects or papers should be broken into smaller pieces with due dates throughout the semester.  This allows students to receive feedback and make adjustments as needed.  It also encourages proper pacing of projects.  Remember, exemplar work samples also scaffold learning. 
  3. Supplemental Resources
    • Background knowledge varies from student to student.  Some have taken related courses and gained valuable experience and knowledge.  Others, especially in introductory level courses, may lack prior knowledge.  As you design your course, keep in mind that all learners may benefit from a separate listing of supplemental resources.  These resources provide additional insight for novice learners and enhance the learning experience for advanced learners.

Create a Home Page – Your course Home Page is the first thing students see every time they log in to your course, making it a valuable place to share the most important course information. Initially, your Home Page should include a brief welcome message, contact information, directions for office hours, and specific instructions for getting started. Think of this page as a “living document.” As your course progresses, announcements can automatically be displayed here and you can highlight important course events. The Home Page is a good start toward creating a welcoming and inclusive culture in your class. Many instructors choose to have a paragraph or two welcoming students to the course and providing them with a brief overview of what to expect. Feel free to use your course description, outline some of your expectations, or just welcome students to the class.

Introduce Yourself – Being fully present for your students, promoting success and community, is critical to any course, but online and hybrid offerings require a more intentional approach than face-to-face courses might. Along with creating personal and customized curriculum, and being available to your students as shown on your Welcome Page, introducing yourself (and perhaps your course) is a great way to start. Then, as you build and teach your course, bear in mind what online presence is, and consider more ways of building presence and engagement into your course and teaching.

Share Your Syllabus or Curriculum Outline – Your syllabus/curriculum outline is, of course, the cornerstone of your course. The very least you can do is share this document as an accessible file (in Microsoft Word or PDF format) on your Home Page or email it as part of the booking process. Best practice is to additionally share the most important information on the course page directly, on your Welcome Page, and in your course Units, as appropriate.

Pacing – The pace of your course is an important aspect in promoting student success.  It should not feel too slow for students, resulting in boredom and decreased motivation.  Likewise, it should not be too fast, leaving students feeling anxious and overwhelmed.  

Exciting things
coming soon!

Sign up to be the first to know!

Want to know when the workshop will be available? Submit your email here to be included on updates.