Online Teaching Guidelines
Here are some helpful resources & best practices for faculty teaching online courses at UB:
What Happens Before A Course Starts?
Step 1 - Set up your UBNet account
You MUST have a UBNet account in order to access Canvas. A UBNet account is available to all faculty and provides you with a email@example.com email account, and also allows you to access myUB, Canvas, online library resources, & Webadvisor. To create a new UB Net account:
Step 2 - Login to Canvas
Once your UBNet account is active, you can now login to Canvas through myUB. You will see all the courses you are scheduled to teach. To login to Canvas:
(Scroll down to "Library & Technology Resources" and click on Canvas).
Step 3 - Complete the Canvas Teaching Certificate Course
The Distance Learning office offers a complete Canvas training course for all UB faculty. To participate in the "Canvas Teaching Certificate Course" contact the Distance Learning office at:
Step 4 - Consider how teaching online is different from teaching on campus
While online teaching is similar to campus teaching, and good teaching is still good teaching whether done online or on campus, here are some “best practices” specifically for online teaching:
Seven Principles for Good Practice
Quality Matters Rubric
E-Personality: The Fusion of IT & Pedagogical Technique
E-Personality is very important in an online course. UB Online courses are taught by live instructors (not textbooks) for a reason. Simply posting materials is not an effective way to teach – so go ahead and share your knowledge of the subject, add personal examples, and develop your “e-personality”)
Step 5 - Required elements of an online course
How should an online course be organized? There are many different ways to organize an online course, just like in a traditional classroom. So, the key to effective online teaching is not necessarily how the course is structured, but how clearly you present the structure to students. Therefore, your course should contain as much information as possible to help students understand what – and how – they are going to learn. The basic sections that all online courses should utilize are:
- A welcome message and instructions for students on the course home page
- Course materials (documents, lectures, powerpoints, audio/video, etc.)
- Discussion board (student-student and student-faculty interaction is essential)
- Water cooler in discussion board (to add sense of community, and to hold off-topic conversation)
- Instructor expertise (see E-personality link in Step 4)
Here are instructions for using Canvas and developing your course:
What Happens During The Course?
Step 6 - The day your course starts
On the day your online course starts, the Distance Learning office will make the course available and send instructions to students through email. At this time the course will also be set to become unavailable to students one week after it ends (which instructors can change, instructions will be provided during the last week of the course). You will be notified by email when this process is complete, and will receive instructions for accessing your course roster.
Step 7 - Guidelines for teaching your course
There are several best practices that should be followed when teaching an online course:
- Provide responses to student questions within 48 hours (or sooner) - if this is not possible (due to vacations, business trips, etc), you MUST get approval ahead of time by the Academic Department that hires you prior to the start of the course.
- Provide grades for assignments with written feedback to students within 1 week - feedback in an online course is very important, so students have a benchmark to follow for future assignments, and to assess their level of mastery of the material.
- Require student interaction in an online discussion - to encourage participation in the online discussion, require students to make a minimum number of original postings, and a minimum number of responses to other postings.
- Instructors must actively participate in the discussion board each week - in order to model student interaction, to provide feedback to students, and to make sure discussions are appropriate and effective. (NOTE: Active participation is defined as actually posting to the discussion board - simply viewing student postings is not sufficient for letting students know the discussion is on the right track).
Step 8 - Adding & Dropping Students
- Instructors should provide a variety of learning activities and assessment methods - use a variety of learning activities (simulations, research, interactive discussions, etc) and assessments (case studies, papers, discussions, etc.) to optimize learning for students with different learning styles.
All students who register & drop courses (both before and during the semester) are processed automatically on a daily basis. Instructors should check their course roster in Canvas periodically for students who add & drop (click on People on the left while in your course).
During the second week of your online course you will receive an email requesting a list of students who have not participated in the course – those students will then either be warned of the need to participate or be dropped from the course by their advisor. Participation is defined as completing an assignment (either graded or ungraded, this is done simply to indicate first week participation). Students not dropped during this period will remain in the course and then should be graded accordingly for the rest of the semester.
What Happens When The Course Ends?
Step 9 - Students evaluate your course
Near the end of each course, students will receive an email with a link to UB's online course evaluation form. The form is completely anonymous, and results are sent directly to the academic departments. Students are given an opportunity to evaluate each online course and provide feedback to the instructor.
Step 10 - Preparation for future courses
Each semester a new course “shell” (empty course) will be created automatically for you, even if you teach the same course. Transferring course materials from one course to another is a simple process, and can easily be done by the instructor, or upon request by the Distance Learning office.
Instructions are provided prior to each semester, and can also be accessed through the Online Support Center (see below).
Step 11 - Getting help
For assistance using Canvas and other online technologies visit our online support center:
Online Support Center