Course Environment, Expectations, and Management

A key step to student success in online course is creating a welcoming, consistent environment in which students feel comfortable and can focus on the course content.


    •    Set clear, concise expectations for behavior and participation
    •    Minimize the number of platforms students need to access
    •    Provide weekly lists of readings, assignments, and other activities before each week begins
    •    Provide contact and support information for students

Situating Students

  • Create a welcome video for your students to encourage a sense of connection
  • Organize your course to minimize the number of places students need to look for information and submit their work. (E.g., don’t email some announcements, post others to Moodle, and present others only in Zoom lectures)
  • Give students a virtual “tour” of the platforms they will be using, showing where assignments are uploaded, where videos are accessed, etc.
  • Include information about support available online (library, counseling center, writing center, etc.)
  • Explain how to contact you, how to expect contact from you, and what to do in case of emergencies

Establishing Norms

  • Include rules for engagement in your class into your syllabus, such as
    • Expected behavior during Zoom meetings (cameras off? raise hands?)
    • How to participate meaningfully in forum discussions
  • If you work with students to establish rules and norms, make those available alongside the syllabus
  • Use tech tools to mitigate problems in the moment
  • Mute or remove troublemakers
  • Hide offensive profile pictures
  • Limit who can enter a Zoom meeting

Other Considerations

  • Check in with your students about how things are going
  • Maintain virtual office hours in a way that makes sense for the class
  • Have students post self-introductions, including their timezones

ACUE’s Online Teaching Toolkit