University of Vermont

Center for Teaching and Learning

Teaching Effectively Online

Dates for next TEO Sessions

Oct 3 - 30, 2017
Jan 30 - Feb 26, 2018
May 22 - June 25, 2018

Applications will be open on July 1.
Email questions to Wendy Verrei-Berenback
» wverreib@uvm.edu

Teaching Effectively Online (TEO) prepares faculty to teach online by exploring research-based best practices for designing courses, providing practical experience with a variety of tools, and perhaps most importantly, by providing faculty the change in perspective—teachers become students, a shift that is regularly described as game-changing.

TEO is a four-week, cohort-based, 100% online course. The course format models practices that promote student engagement and retention in online courses. While there is flexibility within each week, there is a structure, with due dates for assignments and regular checkpoints for discussing ideas and sharing work with colleagues. The typical week requires participants to spend 5 - 7 hours reading, exploring sample online courses, completing course planning documents, writing brief reflections, and engaging in peer discussion.

The course is delivered in Blackboard, and the experience of being students in the course gives faculty a more nuanced understanding of how Blackboard “thinks.” Throughout TEO, we will use different Blackboard tools so that participants can get a sense of which ones will work best to meet the goals for their assignments. A few examples are:

Faculty will learn...

  • the difference between using a blog or the discussion board for encouraging interaction among students
  • the various ways to provide feedback to students
  • how the test tool works for assessment or knowledge self-checks

In addition to Blackboard tools, we will also explore a variety of other web-based applications that can be used by both faculty (to create engaging content) and students (to complete assignments).

That said, the focus of the course is on design and pedagogy, not the nuts and bolts of how to use Blackboard or other tools. But we recognize that technical proficiency is critical to being successful in teaching online, so we're happy to work with participants individually to help them ramp up their Blackboard skills.

Feedback from Faculty Participants:

“It was well organized and well designed! Thank you very much for your time!!! I learned not only about online teaching, but also about basic teaching principles and course design.”

“TEO has assignments that nudge you to begin preparations for online teaching. It’s a great excuse to start! “

“THANK YOU for an amazing course. THANK YOU for helping me realize that I can teach online and enjoy it just as I love teaching in the face-to-face classroom. THANK YOU for so much support, kindness and patience when I struggled. I never felt stupid or embarrassed. This has been such an incredible experience on so many levels! The TEO group is impressive and UVM is fortunate to have you.”

Course Goals:

Faculty participants will:

  1. Develop an understanding of best practices for designing and teaching an online course
  2. Gain perspective on what is like to be an online student
  3. Increase familiarity with Blackboard tools

Module-level Objectives

Module 1: Design that Welcomes Your Learners

At the end of this module, faculty will be able to:

  • Articulate and reflect how their individual teaching styles can be applied to online teaching
  • Recognize the importance of thoughtfully designed introductory course elements as strategies for building teaching and social presence, online community, and student satisfaction
  • Analyze the "getting started" and syllabus pages of an online course using the CTL Online Course Design Guidelines.

This is a multi-purpose week. It serves to orient faculty and make them comfortable as students in this online TEO course space and encourages them think about ways that they can orient students in their own online course(s).

Module 2: Designing Your Online Course

At the end of this module, faculty will be able to:

  • Draft at least one student-centered and measurable course-level learning objective
  • Create a course-level or module-level diagram/chart that communicates the alignment between learning objectives, topics, and activities/assessment
  • Identify course design strategies that encourage academic integrity and discourage cheating
  • Analyze how course content is organized and sequenced in an online course using the CTL Online Course Design Guidelines

This module examines course alignment through a planning framework, commonly referred to as “backward design” (Wiggins and Mctighe, 1989). We also explore best practices in course design, specifically looking at strategies to encourage learning and to mitigate the inevitable distractions inherent in the online environment. We’ll also touch on the much-discussed topic of academic honesty in online courses.

Module 3: Creating Engaging Content

At the end of this module, faculty will be able to:

  • Find existing content that is engaging and is aligned with the course or module objectives - or - find an application that could be used to create engaging content that meets the same criteria
  • Create an organized, clear, and engaging piece of content and describe how it contributes to student learning
  • Explain legal responsibilities regarding copyright in an online course
  • Reflect on personal learning goal(s) and self-assess progress toward meeting that goal as it relates to TEO.

Module 4: Being Present for Students Online

At the end of this module, faculty will be able to:

  • Identify strategies that convey a strong faculty presence
  • Review teaching activities that foster student motivation
  • Participate in asynchronous and synchronous discussions and identify the best uses for each

This week, we will more deeply explore the nuances of creating an online “presence” in the course and how its cultivation creates a supportive learning environment that leads to increased retention. Our focus will be to explore ways to decrease students’ sense of isolation and increase student motivation in the online classroom with attention to facilitating online discussions.


Works Cited

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design .Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.




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