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Online Teaching

When setting up your course consider what you want to accomplish. Divide the course into smaller modules or units and establish learning goals and outcomes for each. There a few course design options, and Backward Design is one of the more popular and if you would like to learn more, click this link. To help you stay organized, try to:

  • Develop Course Outline —The course outline identifies the learning goals, activities, evaluation methods, and resources for the course. The course outline is a guide for both instructors and students.
  • Build-out the Course —Develop and align course content, activities, and assessments. The content should be equivalent regardless of synchronous or asynchronous learning.
  • Review Course Design —Ensure modes of delivery, course content, and activities, and learning outcomes align.
  • Develop Syllabus —The syllabus is a detailed description of the course activities in a weekly format. The syllabus provides an overview of weekly learning objectives, as well as easy to follow details about readings, pre-work, resources, assessments, and deadlines for students.
Begin with learning outcomes as you plan your course. Questions to consider:
  1. What should students be able to know or do by the end of this course?
  2. How can students provide evidence of their knowledge and abilities?
  3. What learning experiences and instruction will students require to become proficient?

Your course mode may direct how you will design the course, therefore, it is important to know your options and how they can be realized. These are the four modes currently available:

    1. Hyflex—a course delivered both in person and online at the same time where face-to-face lectures are live-streamed and recorded. Lecture videos will be posted online along with supporting course materials. The Hyflex model allows students the choice of attending face-to-face class sessions, attending a live-streamed class online, and watching recorded lectures online, outside of normal class meeting times.
      1. Students would opt for one format or the other (coming face-to-face vs. participating online).
      2. The expectation will be that not all students will want to attend face-to-face, and circumstance may warrant pivoting to fully online. Flexibility is key with this model. Please see guide for more information.
    2. Online synchronous—sessions where students and instructor meet at the same time via a web conferencing tool such as Microsoft TEAMS or Skype for Business or Zoom. Please see guide for more information information.
    3. Online asynchronous—activities and communication where the expectation is that students and instructors are not working or communicating at the same time. Please see guide for more information.
    4. Face to face—fully in person classroom experience for lectures, labs, studies, seminars, etc. 

Please see guide for more information.

Course mapping is a way to lay out and organize your course so that it fits your style of teaching the content. We suggest that once you get some ideas down about how you want to organize the course, that you take some time to make sure that you provide adequate time for grading and feedback. One of the most common complaints from student evaluations is that the instructor does not give enough feedback or gives feedback too late to be effective.

Regardless of your teaching style, you will want to organize your course materials in a structured format that is systematic and purposeful. The content should be clear, posted in the same place(s) every week, and linked to other relevant materials.

We have provided a few resources to get you started.

When selecting or creating course materials, try to keep accessibility for ADA compliance in mind. Fortunately, UH has Ally for Blackboard, an application in Blackboard that scans for accessibility as well as guides the instructor on options and methods for correcting issues. In addition, Ally provides students with learning or physical disabilities alternative formats of many types of documents. It is important to understand that instructors are obligated to provide students with accessible content, and there are several resources to help: Electronic Information Resources, Center for Students with Disabilities, Instructional Designers, and UH Libraries, to name a few.

For the special case of pre-recorded lectures, see the Interaction > Discussions and Lectures section of this site for resources to help you get your lectures online.


The syllabus is sometimes your first encounter with the student, and should outline the course expectations, set the tone for class interaction, create a guide for expected learning, and provide organization to the course. When creating a syllabus for a HyFlex or online environment, don’t forget that students have more flexibility for attendance though. In the syllabus, set the expectations, policies, and instructions that apply to the weekly course tasks.

NOTE: Starting fall 2020, students will have Exchange email accounts. To be FERPA-compliant, instructors should communicate with their UH Exchange accounts to student UH Exchange accounts. Private email accounts should not be used. To learn more about Exchange accounts click this link. Your syllabus contact information can include the UH Exchange email address. You may also opt to communicate via the Blackboard email or message tools, which are FERPA-compliant.

Students seem to really appreciate being able to interact with experts and others as they are learning. The instructor is a visible part of their course experience. We recommend that communicate daily with your students, especially during emergency periods. This can be done through the Discussion Board, Announcements, and Email tools in Blackboard, and there are tutorials for all of these, but below are strategies to explore:

There are several options for peer-to-peer interaction. The discussion board (see below) is one of the more popular asynchronous tools. You can also assign students to group in either Blackboard or try TEAMS for synchronous interactions by putting students into TEAMS channels where they can work as a group:

Blackboard’s Discussion Board tool can be used to provide students space to introduce themselves to classmates, express themselves and their understanding of a certain topic, debate/argue formally their point, raise questions, and work with one another as a group, among other things. While you can manually review and grade students’ postings in the Discussion Board, it may present quite a time challenge, particularly with large classes. Student postings will be of varied lengths, and some may be lengthier than expected and others may be too brief. Sometimes, instructors or graders become overwhelmed with trying to quantify student participation by counting the number of discussion initial posts and replies. Instead, you can set up a grading rubric in Bb that specifies not just quantity expectations for discussion participation, but also describes indicators of quality in the posts.

TEAMS for pre-recorded lectures, live lectures and/or discussions. The resources below include how to post to STREAM, the Microsoft video service, and enable closed captioning for ADA compliance:

Zoom for pre-recorded lectures, live lectures and/or discussions:

Mediasite for in-class lecture capture and live streaming:

There are 3 assignment submission “dropboxes” to work with, and we have provided a brief description of each to help you decide which is best for you.

Turnitin—allows for many file types to be submitted and graded online. In addition, you can set the “similarity report” setting which will compare the student’s submission for originality against paper repositories, databases, online works, etc. When used within the Blackboard environment, grades will transfer automatically to the Blackboard grade center, and students can review comments/feedback within Blackboard.

Blackboard Assignment Tool—is a basic dropbox for student submissions, and you have the ability to mark-up, comment, etc, and you can enter the grade either directly or through use of grading rubric and it will transfer to the Grade Center.

TEAMS Assignment tool—another basic dropbox which resides outside of the Blackboard environment. You will have to set up Microsoft TEAMS Class and fill out the Assignment set up wizard. Grading online (direct or through grading rubric) and grade transfer to the Microsoft grade book is possible. Please note that you will not be able to make an assignment in TEAMS classes larger than 200 people and each submission has a limit of 50MB

Test, quizzes, exams—We highly recommend that you learn more about Respondus 4.0 so that you can make the most of the "Test Tool" in Blackboard. Use weekly quizzes for recall and lower-level demonstration of understanding. We recommend this for readings, check for understanding of a lecture, etc. Exams should have questions that reflect more critical thinking or application.To control for cheating, you should be making use of the increased test pools where you can pull a smaller set of questions from a "pool" of questions. Each student will see a different set of question through random selection. The more questions you can put in the pool, the better integrity you are providing for the exam.

Respondus Monitor (webcam and microphone) can be used with Respondus Lockdown. Monitor will record the student as they take the exam. During an emergency period, instructors should show flexibility and compassion since students may be dealing with Internet issues and equipment availability.