2 Getting started

With this chapter, you’ll set the stage to plan your course well.

In this chapter

To begin, gather information about the students in your course. Here are two main areas to consider before getting started with the design.

Who are the students?

Start by identifying what the students:

  • Should already know (e.g., prior course knowledge)
  • Have in terms of access to technological tools (e.g., do they have earphones, do they have a smartphone with a camera that works?), ideally by asking them
  • Have experienced with a university course, ideally by asking them (e.g., first year versus fourth year students)

These will become considerations as you make decisions in the course. For most students, the answers to these questions will likely be as expected, but sometimes surprises arise. These include the students who would come and speak with you on the first day and ask you about particular accommodations. Remember that they cannot do this as easily under these new circumstances. Their voices may effectively be silenced by circumstances. Asking some questions at the outset will help you avoid pitfalls that could exclude some students, who may not communicate with you if there is a concern or a gap.

How could students help?

Students can be involved in many ways. For example:

  1. Through questionnaires you can ask for their opinions and experiences before, during, and at the end of a course. There are examples here of Google Drive Forms that can be adapted; the examples provided can be copied and modified for your own purpose.
  2. Students can help create course content as teacher assistants, volunteers, or in other roles (e.g., videos, problem-sets).

To go deeper

Reflecting on your teaching

eCampusOntario developed a program called Ontario Extend, a professional learning program that “aims to empower educators to explore a range of emerging technologies and pedagogical practices for effective online and technology-enabled teaching and learning.”

Analyzing the learning environment

TLSS created tools to design a blended course that works well for a remote course, too, including how to further analyze the learning environment.

Student involvement

Students can be involved in a number of ways, including being consulted, as collaborators, and co-creators.

Up next

In the next chapters, we will address how:

  • To identify the course’s essential learning outcomes (or topics)
  • Content will be shared with students
  • Assessment will work (e.g., practice, feedback, assignments, exams)
  • Communication will work in the course (professor-student, student-student)
  • Students can become effective at learning in this format
  • To address wellness (e.g., mental and physical health)
  • Teaching assistants can contribute
  • To address equity during this remote teaching/learning experience

Please feel free to contact us at any time with questions, suggestions, and concerns. In particular, we check this form each semester and will continue to update this guide as the situation evolves.


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