Over the years, a number of institutions have identified features to be included in every online course. The following model originated at Utah State University.

Start Here

Start Here may be a link from the home page of the blended course or announcement. It serves to provide students with initial information to get started in the online portion of your course. The content you might include in this section is:

Instructor or Course Introduction

The introduction may be delivered in a text, audio, or video format. The purpose is to introduce yourself and your course to your students. Coppola, Hiltz, and Rotter (2004) found that building “swift trust” in the online classroom improves the chances of stronger interaction and more successful students. The most effective online teachers get a good start in the very first week, which is the essence of “swift trust,” with online communication. Once established, “swift trust” will carry over into the remainder of the semester if high levels of action are maintained. Here are some examples of faculty introductions:

Technical Resources

How do students get help? Provide a list of technical resources provided by your institution. These may include:

  • Help desk
  • Technical tutorials
  • Written instructions

Syllabus

Provide your course syllabus and schedule.

  • Put your class schedule on a separate page, include all assignments and due dates, and make it printer-friendly. Students can print the schedule and use it to keep track of their assignments.
  • Communication Policies – Provide your communication policies for both the classroom and online. At the University of Central Florida, communications policies are called “protocols.” Feel free to use their Protocols Template as a start to your communication policies.  Please modify the template to fit your institution and course.

Course Content

Use whatever name fits this section of your course. All the content, assignments, etc. go under this section.

  • Organization is a key success factor for students. Establish a logical sequence for your course activities and be consistent throughout your course.
  • Chunk your pages into logical groupings and leave plenty of white space between the sections for easy navigation.
  • Use icons or images to identify common tasks such as reading, exams, videos, etc.
  • Make your instructions clear and concise. We recommend you have a colleague or friend provide feedback on your instructions.
  • Avoid having high stakes assignments due when your technical support group is not available – like Sunday at midnight. Students will wait to the last minute to take your exam!

BlendKit Course

Please see the BlendKit Course materials for templates and interdisciplinary examples of blended learning course materials and design documents. Many of these are woven into the BlendKit Course’s do-it-yourself task guides, but other examples are provided on the Recordings page and in the BlendKit Reader.

References

  • Coppola, N. W., Hiltz, S. R., & Rotter, N. G. (2004). Building trust in virtual teams. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 47(2).
  • Reeve, Kevin. (2007, September 18). Creating kick butt quality online courses. Seminar within Linked Campuses International Network. Retrieved June 20, 2011 from Linked Campuses International Network