Note:  I actually posted this article on the SHSU Online Blog, but thought it worth while to share here as well.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in online courses for students is having their expectations of the course meet reality.  There are two easy steps you can take to ensure your students know what to expect in your online course.

  • Place learning objectives throughout the course
  • Create an Expectations content item

Place Learning Objectives Throughout the Course

Due to accreditation requirements, your objectives will show up in your course’s syllabus so the students will be able to find them there.  However, you can really reinforce what the students will be getting out of course units and items by placing Unit and even Content Item level objectives.  Starting out each unit by letting students know what they can expect from it will remind them why they are involved in those activities and reinforce with you the desire to align your curriculum.  Putting an assignment level objective will go further to reinforce what they are learning and why.

Create an Expectations content Item

A great way to cut down on student confusion about course expectations and activities is to create an Expectations content item in your course.  This part of your course should contain 2 sets of expectations:  What you expect of your students and what your students should expect from you.  You can even have your students post that they have read and understood the course expectations as a gateway for your course content.

Examples of Course expectations:

Expectations of Students

  • Use the virtual office to ask general course questions
  • Check the course homepage, discussions and their e-mail several times a week
  • keep up with reading assignments, activities, assignments and quizzes
  • Participate actively in class discussions, responding to at least 2 colleagues for each forum
  • Practice Netiquette in the course.  No flaming (negative hurtful comments); use correct grammar and spelling; don’t yell (write in all caps)

Expectations of Instructor *These will vary depending upon your comfort level

  • I will read and respond to discussion posts directed at me, e-mails and other forms of communication daily (not on weekends)
  • I will post grades for your assignments and exams quizzes within a week of submission
  • I will have office hours at these days/times: (insert times here) via Skype (Skype address here) or via phone (phone number here)

Letting your students know what to expect from you and what you expect from them will go along way toward ensuring a successful experience for them and you in your online course(s).

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