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 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:
- Prof. Amanda Groff, University of Central Florida, Anthropology Department – Prof. Groff created a Flicker show with pictures from her archaeological fieldwork,
- Dr. Johnny Pherigo, University of Central Florida, Music Department – Dr. Pherigo created a website for his instructor introduction
- Dr. Steve Saunders, University of Central Florida, Psychology Department, Interviewing and Counseling – Dr. Saunders created a YouTube video
- Dr. Rita Graham, University of Central Florida, Nicholson School of Communication, Fundamentals of Oral Communication
- Dr. M. C. Santana, University of Central Florida, School of Visual Arts & Design, Visual Communication Theory – Dr. Santana talks about her course in her video
- Shelly Kagan, Yale University, Yalecourses, course introduction
- Andrew Mercer, Newfoundland, Experiencing Music 2200
- Prof. Steffen Schmidt
How do students get help? Provide a list of technical resources provided by your institution. These may include:
- Help desk
- Technical tutorials
- Written instructions
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 referred to as “protocols” or “course expectations.” Feel free to use UCF’s Course Expectations Template as a start to your communication policies. Please modify the template to fit your institution and course.
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!
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.
- 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