Good online pedagogy starts with good pedagogy. When designing an online course, it’s easy to get fascinated (and distracted) by the technological teaching and learning tools. As you lay out your course, aligning selected instructional strategies and assessments with the student learning objectives will help you stay on track.
If you have already been teaching a course in a traditional classroom, you probably already have a course syllabus. The existing syllabus can become a good starting point for transforming your course because it provides answers to questions about course goals, student assignments, grading, readings, and course topics.
If you are developing an online course from scratch and would like to draft a syllabus, Teaching and Learning Innovation (TLI) provides the UT Syllabus Template and the Syllabus Checklist at The Syllabus page.
Build your course around student learning rather than around topics. Don’t let the book chapters guide your course design. In other words, instead of “What topics do I need to cover?” the leading question should be, “What knowledge, skills and attitudes do my students need to develop?”
Create a Draft of Your Course Plan
Build a plan for your entire online course using the 3-Column Document that incorporates the three backward design principles.
|Objectives for Student Learning||Pedagogy / Method of Learning||Assessment of Learning|
Objectives need to be assessable student learning outcomes.
|What you do / What students do||Assessment includes summative (graded) and formative (which is informal–not graded)|
How to use this table
Envision your course in its progression, where your students conquer one learning goal and move to another. This table will help you create a chronological sequence of course units. By the end of each unit, students should be able to achieve the learning objectives set for that unit. It’s up to you how you define an instructional unit. It may be a weeklong learning module, a two-week segment of the course, a three-hour live online session, or a month-long project. Most importantly, each unit of instruction should have a finite student learning objective or a set of objectives.
Your goal is to align the Learning Objectives, Instructional and Learning Activities, and Assessments in this table.
How does technology fit into the course design? Technology tools are just that — tools — that will help you achieve the desired student objectives of the course.
In the Teaching Tools section of the Toolkit, explore:
Read Faculty Focus’ Determining the Best Technology for Your Students, Your Course, and You that summarizes Tony Bates’ decision making framework for selecting educational technology.
In order for your course sites to appear in Canvas, your department MUST have you listed as the primary instructor of record in Banner. If you do not see a course that you are teaching within Canvas, contact your departmental Banner representative. You can also contact the OIT HelpDesk with the request to investigate the issue.
Your Canvas course site should be organized in a consistent, clear and logical manner for your students. It is important to create an organizational structure for the course, so that both you and your students can easily navigate the site without getting confused. OIT provides a template model that contains common elements and tools to get you started. Contact the OIT HelpDesk to request the course template be copied into your course site.
Once you have a clear idea of your course design and organization, it’s time to finalize the course syllabus. Teaching and Learning Innovation offers you information and resources for preparing a syllabus. The UT Course Syllabus Template and the Syllabus Checklist are provided on The Syllabus resource page.
In the syllabus, inform your prospective students of: (a) the type of technology that the online course will use, (b) class learning environment and instructional methods, (c) class communication and participation guidelines, (d) prerequisite skills and technology requirements, and (e) student support resources for online learning.
Consider including OIT’s Getting Ready for Online Learning, a self-assessment resource for students who plan to take an online course.
We highly recommend posting the syllabus of the online courses on the department’s or the instructor’s website. The information provided in syllabus will enable students to make informative decision about enrolling in an online course.
Finalize your online course syllabus. Make sure you keep the syllabus information in only one place. As you work further on your course, you may still need to tweak the syllabus. It will be easier to make changes once, in one location.