Getting (Re-)Started with Your Course Shell

We are approaching the time of year where old becomes new, as instructors start adding to and revising their course shells. This posts has some useful resources for working in your course shell, whether you’re doing so for the first time ever, the first time in a long while, or the first time this week – and whether you’re teaching a fully an online course or using a course shell to complement a face-to-face class.

If this is your first time using a course shell, here are some tips for getting started. This Koehler Center checklist for course shell design features will also be helpful as you think about what to add to your course shell. Note that the Koehler Center has training and open lab time for TCU faculty, plus how-to information for Pearson LearningStudio.

Once you feel a little more established with the LearningStudio set-up, you’re ready to consider the design of your course in light of your course’s learning objectives. This is a nice summary of some key “brain rules” and learning principles that can help you think about how to deliver content to your students. Additionally, here are six simple practices for leading a successful online course, developed by the online Master of Education program in instructional design and technology at West Texas A&M University. GradHacker, at Insider Higher Education, offers this great list of seven strategies to make your online teaching better. I particularly like the one about proving you’re not a dog.

This is a summary of several scholarly articles on best practices for online courses; likewise, the Koehler Center January 2011 newsletter also contains some information about best practices for online teaching.

If you’re looking for guidance on more extensive revisions, this is a great post from Inside Higher Ed on Course Redesign.

Will you be using new tools or technologies in your course this year? I love this graphic for the way it marries course goals, teaching methods, tools, and reflection.

More concretely, here are five things to do in your online course at the start of the semester, from the talented folks at the Texas Wesleyan Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Last, think about netiquette.  Do you have a policy on your syllabus? Note that if you’re using the Koehler Center syllabus template, the policy is already on there.  If you’d like to add something to your own syllabus, the Koehler Center recommends this site as a good netiquette policy guideline. We also suggest that you add some specific course examples if you know there is a possibility of touchy topics. If your class has a synchronous audio or video component, you may also want to consider a policy regarding the role of other distractions.


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