Best Practices and Expectations for Online Teaching at UConn

Last revised: 11/14/2014 by EHS.


(Adapted from “Best Practices and Expectations for Online Teaching”  at Penn State.)

Teaching in an online environment is different from teaching in a face-to-face classroom.  Let’s look at some best practices and expectations for your online teaching at UConn.  

As a University of Connecticut online instructor, you are expected to adhere to the following online teaching best practices. These practices identify the minimum level of pedagogical, managerial, social and technical interactions needed between students and instructors to maintain a quality online learning experience.

As a course instructor, it is anticipated that you will…

  1. Follow the established course start and end dates. When students register for your course, they expect that it will start and end as stated in Student Administration.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t open the course a little early to allow students to orient themselves to the online environment, though.  Just don’t require any activities prior to the official start of class and make that clear when you open the course early.

  2. Follow our guidelines for managing your course throughout the semester. That document outlines things that should be done on a daily, weekly, or semester basis.

  3. Monitor assignment submissions and communicate and remind students of missed and/or upcoming deadlines. You can help ensure a successful learning experience by practicing proactive course management strategies. We suggest posting an announcement to your class at least once a week, summarizing the past week’s learning; telling students what you will be covering in the coming week; and reminding them of any due dates.

  4. Establish and communicate to students, early in the course, a regular schedule for when you will be logging in to the course. Normally this is once a day on weekdays. Many of the students studying chose this medium due to work and family commitments during week days. These students tend to be more active in courses on weekends, so we recommend you set aside time in your schedule to monitor the course at least once on weekends.

  5. If a change will occur to your regular schedule, give prior notice to your students and to the department overseeing your course. You also should consider finding coverage for your online course if you are going to be out of contact with students for more than a couple of days, especially if they are to be working on assignments while you are gone. In cases of personal emergency, you are asked to notify students and the administrative unit overseeing your course as soon as possible if you will be away from the course.

  6. Consider providing feedback to student inquiries within one weekday, especially in condensed sessions (e.g., May Term, Summer, Winter Intersession). Because online learners must manage their time carefully, timely instructor feedback is especially important to them. If you cannot provide a detailed response within one day, we suggest that you respond to the student within one day to simply let them know when a more detailed response will be provided.

  7. Provide meaningful feedback on student work using clear and concise language. When providing feedback on student work, you have an ideal “teachable moment”! Simply telling a student “good job” or “needs work” doesn’t give them the information they need to succeed. They need (and want!) more specifics. What was it that made the work good? (So they can do it again!) What needs work and how can they improve? (Specifically!).  Hint: Rubrics can be a great means of effective feedback.

  8. Communicate to your students, in advance, when you will grade and return all assignments and exams. If you don’t tell them this information, you will definitely be asked!

  9. Provide a teaching and learning environment that supports academic freedom, in the online classroom. Students should be free to express their opinions without fear of ridicule, intimidation, or retaliation by instructors and/or peers.

  10. Make sure you have immediate and predictable access to the same technology that is required for students in your course. Your course syllabus is an excellent place to communicate to your students the technology they must have in place to effectively participate in your online courses. Make sure you are using a computer system and network that can meet those technology requirements, too! eCampus courses typically list that information on the syllabus for the course.

  11. Post final course grades to Student Administration by the due date provided by the UConn Registrar in accordance with University policy.

  12. Encourage your students to complete two informal in course surveys in addition to the official Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE) end-of-course survey (the Student Evaluation of Teaching SET). Students access the SET from their HuskyCT homepage at . At the end of the semester, the SET system generates an email to students announcing the availability of their SETs. This message includes instructions on where to complete and how long they are available. (For more information, see ).

    Research has shown that the biggest influence on whether a student completes an end-of-course survey is you, the instructor. Please send your students a note encouraging them to complete both the informal formative survey during the semester and the SET survey near the conclusion of the semester.  Assure your students that  the information they provide will improve the course.


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