For a student, the beginning of a new semester can be both exciting to start fresh and frightening to not know what you’re getting yourself into. Students can be overwhelmed going into a course site with no direction or explanation. Even if they have taken many courses here at VU, there is no way of knowing how their previous instructor organized that course and what the student’s experience of that course was. Therefore, it’s still important to provide sufficient instructions, additional information, and begin to calibrate student expectations of the course by modeling appropriate behavior.
Making Your Students Feel Welcome
When students log in to your course for the first time they need to see something that orients them to where they are and explicitly communicates what they are to do in a friendly and welcoming manner. Even though you have several options for the course home page, it is always recommended to set your course home page to a page that you have created . One good practice is to set the home page as the syllabus page with your contact information, a picture of you, a personal welcome, and instructions on what to do first. On this page, you should also include a link to the downloadable version of your syllabus.
Since your students come to your class with a wide variety of previous learning experiences and expectations, communicating your expectations for your students from the beginning is a good way to set the tone for the course and course communication. Some faculty prefer to write out course expectations and only do a personal introduction in person or through video. IFD recommends that you create and post the following videos to introduce yourself to your class and to help acclimate your students to the Canvas content and engagement expectations:
- Welcome Video – a short personal introduction video that gives you a chance to “humanize” yourself as a professor and make your students feel safe in the learning environment that you have designed. This video should also serve the purpose of giving a brief overview of what your course content will cover.
- How to Navigate This Course Video – a short screencast video that walks students through your Canvas course and explains the engagement expectations, where they can engage with the content/you/their peers, what to expect from you as far as type and timing of feedback, and where to access feedback and assignment grades.
- Weekly Welcome to Class Videos – a short video that gives students an overview of what will be covered that week along with engagement expectations.
It is recommended that you record your short videos using Studio in Canvas, create a video quiz that is attached to the video that requires them to watch through the video and answer a few simple questions, and embed that video quiz in an assignment. These types of video quizzes incentivize students to watch and engage with the video content you created, rather than them potentially skipping past the video. This video quiz does not have to be assigned points and should not count toward the final grade. It would be attached to this assignment via the external tool ‘ARC – Video for Education’ (will eventually change name to Studio).
One thing to always keep in mind when taking any course that has online activities is that the others with which you interact throughout the semester – including me, your instructor – are human beings. The first rule of netiquette is to “remember the human” when you are communicating with me or with your peers. The second rule is to “adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life.” It’s not likely that students would yell at, mock, or belittle another student in a face-to-face class but the feelings of anonymity that some people have when they are online can lead to those sorts of behaviors. Clearly stating that they are not acceptable in an online class may seem unnecessary but stating it upfront and linking it to the Student Code of Conduct can provide a more direct route to correct
Please take a few minutes and review all the Core Rules of Netiquette and make sure you have a profile picture added to Canvas before beginning the class.
Course Structure and Expectations
This course is divided into X Modules as listed in the Modules tool.
Each Module is X weeks long. They normally include:
- Material for you to read, watch, and explore
- An activity such as a discussion where you interact with your classmates in a small group,
- A graded assignment to allow you to work with the concepts and resources (sometimes individually, sometimes together).
If the modules are not all visible at the beginning of the semester state what the modules are and when new modules will be released (at least two weeks in advance of the module start date).
I will aim to provide you with feedback on each the assignments within X days. Make sure to check your instructor comments when you receive a notification that something has been graded.
If you are using videoconferencing at any point in the class it’s a good idea to include a synchronous video orientation in the first two weeks. It gives students a chance to test out their video equipment and gives you an opportunity to address any questions or concerns they might have. If you would rather not have a synchronous orientation, having students post a video introduction of themselves also provides proof of their videoconferencing ability.
The content found here was designed by Indiana University and adapted for use by the Institute for Faculty Development at Vanguard University. This material is offered under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license and should be considered under this license unless otherwise noted. The original content was imported from “Designing and Teaching for Impact in Online Courses” from within Canvas Commons.