Support from FASE's Education Technology Office

Run through the Remote/Online Course Design Checklist before publishing your course

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The following Remote/Online Course Design Checklist provides a road map for instructors during the remote course design processor as a pre-flight check tool. This is a practical guide that highlights key components essential to a high-quality learning experience for students. Some items may not be applicable to all course contexts. You can pick and choose which of the below strategies makes the most sense for your course.

For a more of an aspiration guide, you could review FASE's Long term vision to enhance online learning (UTORid login required).

This Remote/Online Course Design Checklist was developed by Online Learning Strategies, University of Toronto, August 2020, and has been adapted by FASE's Education Technology Office.

1. Leverage your support contacts

Strategy Make it happen!
Contact your the FASE EdTech Office to answer your questions about setting up your course in Quercus.
  1. Schedule a consultation.
  2. Email for technical support.
❑ Contact your Faculty Liaison Librarian who can assist you with recreating the library tools or resources from previous courses that you would like to include in your Quercus course. For example, course readings, library resources feed (example) or old course exams.
  1. Visit the Engineering and Computer Science Library Staff List.
❑  Explore what your FASE colleagues have been working on within their courses.
  1. Read about (or watch the recordings) of the EdTech Lessons Learned Summer 2020 Webinar Series.
  2. See Examples from Colleagues on the EdTech Technical Support Site.

2. Build a "How this course works" module

Early in the course (perhaps even before the course begins), it's ideal to release a "How this course works" module to students. An alternate name could be "Pre-course learning module" or something else that works for you. By providing an information home base, you provide easy access to important information. It also allows learners to familiarize themselves with how your course will work and how it might be different than their other courses. By welcoming students and providing a place to get started, you set everyone up for a successful term.

Strategy Make it happen!
❑ Create a "How this course works" module to share course logistics, important information, and supports in one place of reference for students.
  1. See "What are modules?" and "How do I add a module?" to get started.
  2. Consider copying this mdoule from a course template to make course building easier (see How do I copy content from another Canvas course using the course import tool?)
❑ Orientation or overview (video or text) that explains the course structure to help learners navigate and manage course expectations (especially regarding assessments).
  1. See an example text-based course overview "How this course works" page.
  2. Consider using the student view if using screen capturing for your course tour; this ensures that what is included in the video is exactly what the students will see.
  3. Select your editing software.
  4. Review tips for creating strong video content.
❑ Learning outcomes for each module.
  1. See CTSI's guide to developing learning outcomes
  2. Create a page in each module (see how to add course content as module items). 
    • Possible titles for this page are "This week's Learning Outcomes" or "Learning outcomes for [Insert topic here]."
❑ An activity list for each module (specifically outlining tasks that are due)
  1. Add a page in the module that details upcoming "to dos" and official due dates (see how to add course content as module items)
  2. You might consider using the Quercus Calendar to organize course dates (see How do I use the Calendar as an instructor?)
❑ Share Syllabus (with download/print option)
  1. Design your Syllabus as you'd normally do and then upload a PDF version of your course syllabus (see How do I upload a file to a course?)
❑ Learn more about your students and their particular circumstances. 
  1. Include a survey to help you understand expectations and needs regarding online instruction. 
    1. See an example student survey
    2. Create your own survey (see How can I create a Quiz or Survey?)
❑ Know that you cannot possibly anticipate all the questions that are going to come your way; proactively plan to share responses to questions as you get them.
  1. Add an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page (see How do I create a new page in a course?)

2.1. Highlight learner supports and resources

You can include this type of information as part of the "How this course works" module or in a completely separate module. The main point is to highlight the resources available to students and to normalize the process of asking for support. By showcasing it, you help to show how important it is to you and encourage students to take advantage of what help is available.

Strategy Make it happen!
❑ Link or reference to relevant information on course equity, diversity and inclusion.
  1. While likely also included on your syllabus, you can draw attention to specific sections by creating pages to share the information. Suggested sections to include are:
❑ Link or reference to relevant information on technology use, participation expectations, and recording policies.
  1. While likely also included on your syllabus, you can draw attention to specific sections by creating pages to share the information. Suggested Sections to include are:
❑ Link or reference to relevant information on academic integrity.
  1. While likely also included on your syllabus, you can draw attention to specific sections by creating an academic integrity page; view an example of an Academic Integrity Course Page in a sample course template for Quercus.
    • Consider having an open and honest discussion with your students in your course that outlines your expectations, personalizes the importance of acting with professionalism and integrity, and describes in general terms how you will be monitoring and acting upon academic integrity concerns.
    • See more ideas to increase academic integrity.

❑  Share information about being an online learner

  1. Link directly to the "Getting Ready for Online" learning resource.
  2. For an example of how you can share this in your Quercus course, see an example module "How this Course Works > Services and Support."
  3. Remind them that they can contact Engineering's Learning strategist (through the Engineering Portal or call 416-978-4625)
  4. Provide links to student resources:
❑ Add My SSP 
  1. Learn more about what My SSP is and why to embed My SSP into your course
  2. Add a link to My SSP to your course navigation using the redirect tool
  3. Post an announcement letting students know about the My SSP tool
❑ Share student-facing technical support for technology used in the course
  1. Share student-facing Quercus/Academic Toolbox technical support resources 
  2. Share tool-specific support (e.g. Crowdmark) contact information

2.2. Explain the uses of Course Technology and Tools

You can include this type of information as part of the "How this course works" module or in a completely separate module. The main point is to highlight a list of technical competencies and resources need to complete the course.

Strategy Make it happen!
❑ Detail requisite skills for using technology tools (websites, software, and hardware) are clearly stated and supported with resources.
  1. Create a page to communicate clearly (and on your syllabus) any technical requirements for your course that are beyond those detailed on the minimum requirements guide.
❑ Scaffold the development of technical and participation skills through scaffolding via low stakes options
  1. This might be the first time that students have used a particular tool (or in this particular way); use time early in the term to practice the behaviour expected for synchronous course sessions as well as assessment submission.
    1. Schedule a Course Welcome session using a webinar tool (see which webinar tool should I use and when?)
    2. Schedule mock or practice assessments using your selected assessment tool (see select your assessment tool)
    3. Encourage students to introduce themselves on your asynchronous discussion board (e.g. Piazza, Pepper, or the Quercus Discussion board)
❑ Maximize navigation and minimize confusion in your course by customizing and streamlining your navigation menu
  1. See "How do I manage course navigation links?"
    1. Disable/Hide unused links
    2. Order your links thoughtfully (strategies includes by order of importance or alphabetically)
❑ Model the behaviour you'd like to see in your class but also share it explicitly
  1. Customize this "Netiquette" guide (online Internet etiquette) for your course.
❑ Implement third party tools selectively and thoughtfully
  1. Review how to safely implement third party tools in your course
  2. Consider the consistency of student experience when selecting tools; try to select from those available in U of T's Academic Toolbox

3. Articulate your expectations for interaction

Building a learning community of active participants is a challenge in online/remote courses. Often, it is encouraged for students to be active contributors to their learning via their course participation, but it can be difficult for students to know what exactly this means and how they are supposed to behave. It is helpful to clearly state these expectations, how they will be assessed, and how students can proactively participate to drive their own learning experiences.

Strategy Make it happen!
❑ Model the behaviour you'd like to see in your class but also share it explicitly
  1. Customize this "Netiquette" guide (online Internet etiquette) and share it in your course.

❑  Send an Introductory announcement or email sent to students providing them information on how to access the course

  1. Before, during and even after your course, you can maintain clear lines of communication through the Quercus Announcements tool (see How do I add an announcement in a course?)
  2. While announcements are preferred, you might select to send an email notification to students (see How do I get student email addresses from Quercus?)
❑  Ensure that students are getting your communications.
  1. Encourage the students to set their Quercus notification settings appropriately; students can customize how and when they receive notifications from courses.
❑  Course contains resources or activities intended to build a sense of class community, supports open communication, and establishes trust (ie ice-breaker, introductory discussion forums).
  1. Let students drive the conversation by encouraging them to start their own Quercus discussions.
  2. You might choose to use the non-Quercus discourse options like Piazza or Pepper.
  3. Incorporate quick active learning activities in your synchronous sessions
  4. Schedule (open) drop in office hours (see How do I add a scheduler appointment group in a course calendar?)
  5. See Clare's interactive icebreaker ideas like using intro music, minigames, and discussion topics to foster conversation. 

❑   Learners are encouraged to share resources, individual observations/experiences or integrate knowledge to support peers as a community.

  1. Create Quercus student groups (see What are groups?)
  2. Implement a "study buddy" strategy (see Prof. Marzi's talk "Study Buddies: Creating course-based peer mentors to build community and support")

4. Consider your course design and layout

Each Quercus course looks and feels a little different, depending on who built it. To ensure that students can move around your course easily, try to simplify your lay out and use elements consistently. You can see the full guide to to tips and strategies on building a course in Quercus.

Strategy Make it happen!

❑   A logical, consistent, and uncluttered layout is established (especially on the homepage). The course is easy to navigate (use of colour or icons, related content grouped, self-evident titles).

  1. Use modules (see How do I add a module?) to organize your course components. We do not recommend sharing the Files tool directly to your students.
  2. Review some example HTML templates(these can then be copied into your course and customized/edited) to use as inspiration for your homepage.
  3. Use "how to add styles" to add elements like buttons, borders, boxes, etc. in a standardized but appealing way.
❑   Content is well written and has been proofread.
  1. Create a Microsoft Form to solicit feedback from your students when they encounters elements that are confusing or notice a typo that can be changed.

4.1. Incorporate accessibility and Universal Design

CTSI promotes the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework that allows for multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement. A main principle is that the learning experience is the same for all learners, and, if it cannot be, an equal experience is built. By building a course that follows accessibility and universal design principles that are critical to some learners, you benefit all learners. See Accessibility and Quercus support resources to get started.

Strategy Make it happen!

❑   Text is formatted with titles, headings, and other styles to enhance readability and improve the structure of the document.

  1. Learn more about the new Rich Text Editor.
  2. Use pre-formatted Headings to delineate your content sections using the rich text editor's content blocks tool (including paragraphs and Headings 1-4, with 1 being the largest).
  3. Add styles consistently using the pre-built styles guide (see How to add style to your course).

❑   There is enough contrast between text and background for the content to be easily viewed

  1. Use the "Accessibility Checker" in the new Rich Content Editor
  2. See "Accessibility and Quercus"
    • Additional resources include the AODA Office (Information on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act for University of Toronto Faculty and Staff. Human Resources)
    • CTSI Accessibility Guidelines: Tips and advice to improve accessibility of course content published within Quercus (Canvas).
❑  Text equivalents are provided for visual and audio elements ("alt" tags, captions, transcripts, etc.). 
  1. See How to add alt text to an image (this article is geared to students but should also work for teaching teams)
❑  Hyperlink text is descriptive and makes sense when out of context (avoid using "click here" or “read more”).
  1. Review Yale's guide to link usability and web accessibility(including how people with different abilities use links).
    • Avoid link text like “Click Here,” “More,” and “Read More.” These kinds of links can be confusing when a screen reader reads them out of context.
    • Use unique link text where possible. Speech recognition software users may have a bad experience with duplicated link text.
    • Do not use images as links (or, if you do, ensure that your alt text provides a full explanation of what the link is).
❑  Ensure that your course (and course tools) are accessible.
  1. Use an accessibility checker tool to get more information about the accessibility level of your resource.

5. Design and share your content and activities have the opportunity to interact with the content, their peers, and their instructor(s). Instructors can remove barriers to access by using open educational resources (OER) and incorporating activities that allow for participation and active learning. To get started, you can review CTSI's guide to strategies for active learning. You might also consider joining FASE's Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Community of Practice.

Strategy Make it happen!
❑  Access is offered to a variety of engaging resources that facilitate communication and collaboration, deliver content, and support learning and engagement.
  1. Use an accessibility checker tool to get more information about the accessibility level of your resource.
  2. Review the "Quirkiness of Quercus" session for ideas on building a learning community in your online course
❑  Activities are provided for learners to develop higher order thinking and problem-solving skills, such as critical reflection and analysis.
  1. Review strategies for active learning
  2. Incorporate quick active learning activities in your synchronous sessions
  3. Consider joining FASE's Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Community of Practice (CoP)
❑  Activities are included that emulate real world applications of the discipline, such as experiential learning, case studies, and problem-based activities when applicable 
  1. Review U of T resources for active learning
❑  Open Educational Resources, free, or low-cost materials are used when available. 
  1. See Open UToronto
  2. Talk to your librarian (see the Engineering and Computer Science Staff List) about options (see also UofT Library Resources)
  3. Take a look at FASE projects (see the EdTech Project Catalogue)
❑  Modeling academic integrity, instructor appropriately cites all resources and materials used throughout the course. 
  1. Ensure copyright compliance
    1. Submit your question Angela Henshilwood ([email protected]) at the  Engineering and Computer Science Library for case-by-case support.
❑  Create instructionally strong pre-recorded course content.
  1. Review the full guide to self-capturingincluding:
    1. Overview of how to self-capture (and share) course content
    2. Decide what video recording and editing software works for your project
    3. Select your hardware for self-screen recording
    4. Consider using a video design and component template (to add consistency to your content; this article includes examples and templates)

6. Align your assessment and feedback strategy with your learning outcomes

Communicate your assessment and feedback strategy clearly by outlining the process and criteria for evaluation of the achievement of the learning outcomes. Get with the  CTSI Guide to Assessing Learning started.

Strategy Make it happen!
❑  Faculty course grading policies are followed. Clearly state consequences of late submissions in the course information area and syllabus.
  1. Visit the Engineering Hub  > Course Continuity(requires UTORid login), including:
    1. FASE Recommendations regarding final assessments
    2. FASE recommendations regarding Online Proctoring
❑  Formative and summative assessments strategies align with course learning outcomes as well as available tools.
  1. Design your (alternative or traditional) assessment strategy.
  2. Provide both assessment and feedback
  3. Select the assessment tool will suit the type of assessment.

❑   Criteria for the assessment of a graded assignment are clearly articulated (rubrics, exemplary work).

  1. Add a Quercus rubric to your course (see Quercus Rubrics or How do I add a rubric in a course?)
    • Upload a file version of your rubric, if not using the rubric tool 

❑   Ensure assessments include tasks and questions that allow students to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes that you have identified

  1. See CTSI's Guide for Assessing Learning
  2. Planning and implementing accessible assessment(excel file)
    • Includes accommodated testing considerations

❑   Learners have opportunities to review their performance and assess their own learning throughout the course (pre-tests, automated self-tests, reflective assignments, etc.).

  1. See what kind of Quercus quizzes you can create (see what quiz types can I create in a course?)
  2. Review question types available in Quercus (see what types of questions are available in a quiz?)
❑  Decrease stress by sharing your assessment contingency plans (for if/when things go wrong).
  1. Run a mock/practice assessment to ensure familiarity with the assessment process.
  2. Create a contingency plan for your online assessment
  3. Review how the teaching team will monitor assessments

Don't forget - students will not have access to your course until you publish it. See How do I publish a course? You'll also want to enroll the other members of your teaching team (like your teaching assistants) (see How to add people).

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