How to Plan a Remote Course
Many instructors have experience creating and teaching face-to-face courses; and that experience will serve them well as they teach remotely. There are a few aspects, though, that are different; one of them is planning a remote course.
Instructors who are teaching remotely for the first time usually say that the planning process is different; the plans are more detailed, and they tend to happen sooner. These new-to-remote-teaching instructors also mention how necessary the plans are, for themselves and for the students. The plans identify a structure that guides instructors and students through the teaching and learning in the course.
This document lays out a suggested process for planning.
1. Define the learning objectives for the course.
There is some discussion about whether to call them objectives, outcomes, or goals, but the important part here is to identify what the instructor hopes (or promises) students will know, be able to do, or believe by participating in the course.
2. Organize the course into components and define the learning objectives for each part.
Sometimes courses are organized by units, modules, lessons, or weeks. Whatever the case, those components identify the stages or the chunks of learning in a course. In a remote course, it’s important to make that organization clear to the students (usually in the way that it appears in Blackboard).
Once you’ve decided on the organization, consider
- writing learning objectives (or goals or outcomes) for each component; and
- checking to see if the objective for each component lines up with the objectives for the overall course.
3. Create a course plan by selecting learning activities and materials.
In “Learning Activities for Remote Teaching: Options, Considerations, and Tools,” we’ve curated a list of potential learning activities. We’ve identified some considerations as you plan each activity and the tools you can use to deliver them.
We’ve organized those activities into three categories,
- activities that ask students to THINK ABOUT a particular issue or question,
- activities that ask students to READ/WATCH/LISTEN to some material, and then
- activities that ask students to DO an activity to apply their learning or practice a new skill.
Consider using that list to identify the activities, materials, and tools you’ll need for each module.
Also: as you select the learning activities, try to find a good balance between synchronous and asynchronous activities. We recommend that for every synchronous activity have a way for students to complete it asynchronously.
4. Make sure that the assessments evaluate the knowledge or skills identified in that stage or part of the course and in the overall course itself.
As you think about the activities in each part (e.g., unit, stage, or module), you’ll be selecting the assessments that will help evaluate (and encourage!) a student’s learning. Double-check that the assessments match the objectives for that part of the course and for the overall course. Try to avoid overloading students, most of whom will be new to learning remotely and whom will be dealing with the continued pressures of the pandemic.
5. Develop the materials.
This step is a big one – and requires time to a) select and create all the materials (e.g., the podcasts and lectures and readings) and b) get used to all the tools that you’ll need to make them.
As you get used to these tools, give yourself time to learn them. You’ll make some mistakes along the way; and that’s just a sign that you’re learning. Remember to ask for help when you need it.
6. Load the materials and activities into Blackboard and test them.
There are a lot of smaller steps here, and you’ll want to give yourself lots of time here too. Turn on “Student Mode” to see how the students experience your course. When it comes to tests and quizzes, triple check that they have all the right settings.
Darby, Flower and James M. Lang. Small Teaching Online. Jossey-Bass, 2020.
Davidson, Cathy. “The Single Most Essential Requirement in Designing a Fall Online Course.” Hastac.org. 2020.
Nilson, Linda and Ludwika Goodson. Online Teaching at Its Best. Jossey-Bass, 2018.
Written by: Joel Baetz
Last Updated: 19 August 2020