Module 3: Course Management

In this module, we will explore the essential aspects of effectively managing an online course. Course management encompasses various elements, including organization, navigation, content delivery, and assessment administration. This module will equip you with the necessary strategies and tools to create a well-structured and engaging online learning experience for your students.

Module Objectives:

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Develop comprehensive and student-centered syllabi that clearly communicate course expectations, learning objectives, assessment criteria, policies, and resources that align with high-impact practices in online education.
  • Establish a positive and inclusive online learning environment that promotes active participation, fosters respectful communication, and addresses potential challenges or conflicts that may arise during the course. 
  • Explore various instructional strategies that promote student engagement, deepen understanding, and facilitate meaningful learning experiences that align with the goals of online teaching.
  • Synthesize and apply the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the tutorial to adopt a cohesive and effective online teaching approach. 

Section 1: Syllabus  
A syllabus ensures a mutual understanding between the instructor and students. It establishes a level of certainty regarding course goals, organization, scope, and policies. In addition, a syllabus establishes a clear understanding of acceptable behavior, expectations on the level of student effort, and procedures for communicating with the instructor. Some important syllabus considerations include:

  • Course objectives and learning outcomes: Clearly articulate the overall goals of the course and the specific learning outcomes that students are expected to achieve. This helps students understand what they will gain from the course and provides a roadmap for their learning journey. See also Learning Objectives
  • Course structure and organization: Outline the course structure, including the sequence of topics, modules, or units. Provide a clear timeline for assignments, exams, and other important milestones. This helps students understand the course flow and manage their time effectively. See also Course Design
  • Grading and assessment: Clearly explain the grading criteria and assessment methods, including the weightage of each assignment, exam, or project. Describe the expectations for quality and provide guidelines for submitting work. This ensures transparency and helps students understand how their performance will be evaluated. See also Assessing Learning
  • Course policies: Clearly communicate important policies related to attendance, participation, late submissions, academic integrity, and any other relevant guidelines. Address any specific requirements or expectations for online or hybrid courses. This sets clear expectations and helps maintain a fair and inclusive learning environment. See also Hybrid Teaching
  • Required materials and resources: List the textbooks, readings, online resources, or any other materials required for the course. Include details on where students can access or purchase these resources. This helps students prepare in advance and ensures they have access to the necessary materials. See also HSHSL Course Reserve
  • Communication and contact information: Provide information on how students can contact the instructor, including preferred communication channels and response times. Inform students about any scheduled office hours or virtual meetings. This promotes effective communication and supports student-instructor interactions. See also Virtual Office Hours
  • Accessibility and accommodation: Include a statement about the course's commitment to accessibility and accommodation for students with disabilities or specific needs. Provide information on how students can request accommodations and assure them of confidentiality and support. See also Supporting Students
  • Course policies and syllabus agreement: Request students to review the syllabus thoroughly and acknowledge their understanding of the course policies and requirements. This promotes student responsibility and reduces potential misunderstandings. See also Inclusive Teaching

Remember to review and update the syllabus regularly, as necessary, to reflect any changes to the course or to incorporate student feedback. A well-crafted syllabus sets clear expectations, establishes a foundation for learning, and fosters a positive learning environment for both instructors and students.

Additional Resources

Online Network of Educators. (2019, June 15). Benefits of a Liquid Syllabus [Video]. YouTube. 

Pacansky-Brock, M., Smedshammer M., & Vincent-Layton, K. (2020). Humanizing online teaching to equitize higher education. Current Issues in Education, 21(2)

Palmer, M. S., Wheeler, L. B., & Aneece, I. (2016). Does the document matter? The evolving role of syllabi in higher education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 48(4), 36-47.

TemplateLAB (n.d.). 47 Editable Syllabus Templates (Course Syllabus)

Section 2: Classroom Management 
UMB faculty across campus share their strategies for engaging students in online teaching:

Additional Resources

Section 3: Instructional Strategies  
UMB FCTL faculty and staff share some high-impact practices for online teaching, including key differences from face-to-face teaching, such as staying organized, using the discussion board, providing timely feedback, and engaging with students asynchronously in the following video:

Section 4: Putting it All Together 
UMB faculty reflect on lessons learned from online teaching in the following video:

Additional Resources

  • Online Teaching Playbook
    • This is a comprehensive guidebook produced by Harvard Business School. You will find helpful information on preparing before class starts, the student experience, the educator experience, maintaining student engagement, discussion and group work, online teaching materials, and assessment and grading.