Best Practices for Online Teaching Self-Assessment

How to Use the TOTAL Assessment Guide and Resources

We’ve designed the TOTAL program to function as a self-assessment. Based on your responses, you can access practical learning resources that will help you enhance specific areas of your online course. Below, you will find four categories of online teaching strategies. Within each category, we provide several best practices that you can use to deliver a high-quality online course experience.

One of the goals of TOTAL is to encourage you to stretch yourself to enhance your teaching practices, but not so much so that you feel overwhelmed and less motivated to make any changes. You can always address the remaining items on the list in another semester. Eventually, you and your students will benefit from having each of these items represented in your course.

If you would like a downloadable PDF of this checklist for easy reference click Checklist

How to Use this Checklist

  1. Read through the entire checklist without clicking on the supplemental learning resources.
  2. As you read through the checklist, note the items you are not currently doing in your online course.
  3. Be sure to congratulate yourself on the strategies that you are already using in your course!
  4. Choose a few of the items you are not currently doing in your course, rather than tackling them all at once (Unless, of course, you have ample time to address them all now). Prioritize which strategies are most important to address first.
  5. Read the resources linked to areas you need to know more about.
  6. Reflect on the following questions for each area you want to address:
    1. How will I implement this strategy in my course? What steps will I take?
    2. What additional information or support do I need to accomplish this?
  7. Use the downloadable TOTAL Worksheet to help you plan your application of each strategy.
Orienting Students

Course navigation is logical, consistent across units/courses, and efficient.

If your school has a standard layout for Blackboard Courses, defer to your educational or instructional technology group for guidance.  You may also contact the FCTL for help

I have provided instructions about available technical support and how to access it.

Example of technical support instructions to include in your syllabus or course: Tech Support

Objectives and Assessments
Active Learning

Course tools and media encourage student engagement and active learning.

Links to resources about various tools that promote interaction:



Bb Collaborate Ultra


Bb Discussion Board

Bb Groups

Log in to the Faculty Hub for more resources on Active Learning

Feedback and Grading

I have clearly stated my plan for response time to student communications and feedback on assignments.

Example of insturctior communcation and feedback policy to include in your syllabus or course: Feedback Policy

Need More Help?

If you want to learn from other faculty members: 

Online Teaching Community: A monthly online session with other UMB faculty and staff who support one another by answering questions, sharing best practices, and discussing online teaching topics of interest with each other. 

Educational Scholars: An online, co-facilitated program designed to teach and discuss evidence-based teaching and learning strategies.   

If you want peer mentoring: 

Faculty Consultation: Meet with a UMB faculty member with experience and expertise in online teaching.  

If you need help solving a specific design issue: 

Consultation with an Instructional Designer: Sign up for a consultation to help you explore and define the best instructional approaches and offer guidance on how to move forward with implementation. 

Faculty Learning Hub: Take advantage of the iDesign instructional design consultation service, sponsored by the UM System, by self-enrolling into the Faculty Learning Hub course site. You can access a comprehensive set of instructional design and educational technology resources, as well as get live support from instructional design consultants who will help you plan your online course.  

If you want to partner with the FCTL to develop an online or hybrid course from scratch:  

Collaborate with our experienced instructional development team. They will guide seasoned or novice instructors through a step-by-step process to (re)design and build your course. 

To inquire about partnership for course design, contact the Center at 

To learn about our course design process and what it is like to partner with us, watch