Countdown Checklist for Fully Online Teaching

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  • What do I need to prepare my fully online (asynchronous) course?
  • When do I prepare my course?
  • When must my course be ready for students?

Prepare yourself and your course using the countdown checklist items below.

The timing of the checklist items may for you vary depending on factors such as your date of hire, duration of course, etc. Note also that the checklist items relate primarily to asynchronous teaching tasks, and other teaching duties should also be completed, such as reviewing your timetable in the Employee Portal, becoming familiar with your Program Handbook, etc.

Getting Familiar with Your Course 

See these first steps to get familiar with your teaching duties, the eConestoga course shell for your course section, and the assigned teaching resources for your course (if applicable). 

Think About Your Teaching Approach and Activities for an Asynch/Hybrid Course 

Asynchronous teaching supports student learning, yet without the scheduled delivery of lessons in real time. First, see for the College’s expectations the Course Delivery Procedure. Then, review the Hub post on what is Effective Asynchronous Teaching.

Obtain Your Course Shell 

Find out when your specific course shell (which may be exported from a model shell) will be available to you in eConestoga. Visit the section shell to get familiar with the course contents. If your course shell contains a Professor Guide (the page or document will be hidden from students), review and follow its instructions.  

Align Course Outline and Instructional Plan

Ensure that the Course Outline is reflected directly in the Instructional Plan (outcomes, key concepts, assignments, etc.) Also, ensure that any key course policies reflect the College’s academic policies as well as the information in the Program Handbook.

Scan the Course 

The Course Scanner tool appears on the main page of your course site. Follow the Course Scanner tool instructions to get your course shell as close to 100% as possible. Contact eConestoga for further help. Learn more about the Course Scanner Tool. 

Prepare the Essential Elements 

Visit all of the Essential Items in the shell (Instructional Plan, Grades, Evaluations, etc.) to ensure they are functional and up to date. Learn more about the Essential Elements

Obtain Your Course Textbook

You may have a print textbook, or a digital course resource (especially if your course is part of Conestoga’s eText programs). Details are on your Course Outline, which you can find in the Employee Portal. Print textbook information is available at the Bookstore. Follow instructions in your course shell to download/access the course textbook.  

Preparing the Course

Next, finalize and ready your course for student access. This includes Instructional Plan dates and communication information. It also includes providing a welcome/orientation message to students and faculty information.

Confirm Dates 

Confirm meeting and/or assignment dates and deadlines in the Instructional Plan. Compare the Instructional Plan due dates with any automatic quiz release dates and assignment due dates in the course shell to ensure they align. Consider adding deadlines to the Calendar tool. If adjusting dates, take into account academic dates and religious holidays.  

Check Links 

Select the Student View from your settings in the top right corner of the site to see the shell from a student’s perspective. Check all active links in the Course Information section and the first week of the Contents section to ensure they are functioning correctly. Seek assistance on fixing broken links from eConestoga

Prepare a Communication Plan  

Plan a schedule for regular communication and engagement with students using Announcements and/or Course Mail tools. If in your asynchronous course you will offer optional, unstructured office hours, create a Zoom meeting room link in the Conestoga Zoom portal to share with students in the Calendar tool. 

Create a Short Welcome/Orientation 

An orientation to your asynchronous course especially is important for students with limited or no experience with online learning. Create a written or video orientation for the first Announcement. Make note of the importance of viewing the Instructional Plan, students’ “map” to the course. Contact eConestoga for help creating course videos. 

Share a Faculty Bio 

Students want to know about you! Share relevant professional details about yourself as well as your contact information on the Faculty Bio page, if available (add a photo or video). If there is no Faculty Bio page, then create a simple one in the Course Information section. Learn how to add a course page

Start the Discussion 

Students generally appreciate seeing a model of what they are expected to do in the course, and knowing a bit about who is in the course builds rapport with others. Be the first to reply to the course icebreaker on the discussion board. If there is no icebreaker activity, then create a simple one and make the first response.  

Make Essential Elements Available

Almost there! Students should have access to Essential Elements 3 days before the course starts.  

Ensure the Course Shell is Active 

If the course is open, the banner image on the eConestoga home page will appear brightly in colour, and rolling your mouse over should make an icon of an open eye appear. If it is not open, contact eConestoga immediately.

Mountain image with icons on the left (an eye) and right (thumb tack and refresh button).
An open course shell.

First Week of Semester

The day has arrived! The first week of the semester is a busy time for students, so planful messaging and monitoring can help students to get one track.  

Send a Course Welcome Message 

Send an email message to the entire classlist, inviting students to get started in the course shell! See more on how and when to prepare and send a welcome email message, including an adaptable template email that you may download. 

Monitor First-Week Participation 

It may take some time for students to access your course, especially if they enroll after the course has started. Check the Classlist daily and using the Discussion Forum and Class Progress Summary to monitor participation. Use Intelligent Agents to contact by email students who have not accessed the course shell by the end of the first week.  

Anticipate Questions

Students are going to start to reach out to you with early questions about the course, so anticipate what they might be and how and where you might receive them. Consider starting a thread for student questions on the Discussion forum or creating a “living” FAQ area n your course site based on questions you receive from students.

Reaching Out for Help 

Contact your Chair/Chair Designate if you have questions about your teaching duties. Contact your Chair Assistant, Coordinator, Program Manager, or Course Guide if you have any questions about the course. 

Consult with a Teaching and Learning Consultant if you have questions about teaching or grading in your asynchronous or hybrid mode of delivery. Contact eConestoga for any technical questions or concerns. 

Elan Paulson

Elan Paulson, PhD, has been an educator in Ontario's higher education system since 2004. Before joining Conestoga as a Teaching and Learning Consultant, Elan was on the executive team at eCampusOntario. She previously served as Program Director and as an instructor in professional education programs at Western University's Faculty of Education. With a Master's in Educational Technology, Elan specializes in technology-enabled and collaborative learning to support diverse learners. She has also conducted research on faculty participation in communities of practice for professional learning and self-care.

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