Teaching Effectively Online

Next 2020 TEO Sessions

July 6 – July 31
July 20 – August 16


Questions can be emailed to
Wendy Verrei-Berenback wverreib@uvm.edu (email link)

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. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the TEO course.

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.

Course Goals:

Faculty participants will:

  1. Gain perspective on what it is like to be an online student
  2. Develop an understanding of best practices for designing and teaching an online course
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of course alignment
  4. Explore technology tools to facilitate learning
  5. Strengthen their identities as reflective practitioners

Module-level Objectives

Feedback from Faculty Participants:

“[This course] 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.”

Module 1: Establishing an Engaged Learning Community

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

  • Design at least one introductory course element (e.g., welcome video, getting started page, icebreakers) to build teaching and social presence and online community.
  • Analyze the Getting Started page, syllabus, and course content of an online course using the CTL Online Course Design Guidelines.
  • Identify strategies that convey a strong teaching presence.
  • Discuss teaching strategies that contribute to student motivation.
  • Reflect how individual teaching styles can be applied to online teaching.

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). We also explore research and subsequent practices to motivate students and develop a strong instructor presence.

Module 2: Designing Your Online Course (Learning Objectives & Backward Design)

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 chart that communicates the alignment between learning objectives, topics, and activities/assessment.
  • 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). By defining learning objectives, faculty think about where they want students to end the course, in terms of skills, dispositions, and knowledge. 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.

Module 3: Designing Your Online Course, Part 2 (Assessment & Feedback in an Online Setting)

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

  • Apply learning frameworks such as Understanding by Design and Universal Design for Learning online course design.
  • Discuss course design strategies that encourage academic integrity.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of course alignment by developing an evidence-based assessment activity.

The third week carries forward the second stage of backward design by identifying the ways in which to assess (in both formative and summative ways) the previously articulated learning objectives. We also touch on the much-discussed topic of academic honesty in online courses.

Module 4: Designing Your Online Course, Part 1 (Creating Engaging Content)

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

  • 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) for TEO.

This week focuses on the final step of the backward design process: course content aligned with learning objectives and assessments. Faculty find or develop content that promotes the kind of learning desired for a specific course, which is an opportunity to explore and curate materials from the web or to test out new technology.

Works Cited

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