If students are to develop a sense of community in a course, they have to know how to access it and they need to be aware of its cultural norms. For us, both are obvious, because we designed the course. For students, neither might be immediately apparent. Since I’m teaching fully online, partially synchronous undergraduate courses for the first time this fall, I decided to create a pre-semester checklist to inform students about basic technological requirements and behavioral expectations. A template for you to use to create your own checklist is below. A specific example of what I’ll be sending students is here. Feel free to use both. As usual, the views expressed herein are my own and not those of my university; your needs may differ.
Pre-Semester Course Checklist
Information that should be communicated to students before the semester begins:
- Where can students find course materials, such as the syllabus and directions for assignments?
- Will class meet only in a physical classroom, both in-classroom and online, or only online?
- What technology platforms will students need to know how to use?
- How will remote students connect to class? What steps do they need to take to connect?
- Will class sessions be recorded? If so, how can students access these recordings?
- Encourage students to use technologies required for the course before the semester begins. If possible, schedule a few brief practice sessions so that students can begin familiarizing themselves with the course’s technological prerequisites.
- Remind students to contact the university help desk for answers to technology-related questions and provide contact information.
- What are your expectations, in terms of privacy, etiquette, and participation, for student-student and student-instructor interaction in the course?
- How can students contact you outside of class times?
- What do students need to know about how they can make the course a productive learning experience? What are their responsibilities as learners?