Share your expectations of response time, as well as your own boundaries.

Pam Howe, Educational Innovation and Design Consultant

Starting Off

You’ve designed your course, but now, how will you teach it? Teaching online has more similarities to teaching face-to-face than you may think.

On the first day of your face-to-face class, what do you normally tell students? You may share information about yourself, what they can expect to learn in this class, and possibly review the syllabus so students know your policies on late work, tardiness, group work, and more.

Introducing yourself and the class

Here are some options:

  • Recorded Video: Record a video of yourself discussing the syllabus and your info. This is welcoming and will help them to get a sense of your personality, too.
  • Bio: On the homepage of your course, provide your bio and a link to the syllabus. Ask them to contact you with any questions.
  • Video Chat: Hold a synchronous video chat session to talk through the syllabus, calendar, share something about yourself, and answer questions. This option is good for a small class. For a larger class, offer multiple chat sessions. You can record the session to share the recording with those unable to attend to watch later.
  • Syllabus Quiz: Post a syllabus that details all of the policies. You can also create a brief ungraded or low-risk quiz that tests their knowledge of the syllabus’ key points. This strategy helps them learn to read closely, and it also helps them try out the quiz tool, so they can see how it works.
  • Announcement: Post an announcement with the information. An announcement sent through Canvas or another LMS will be emailed to students immediately, and a record of announcements are kept in the LMS. Announcements can include video or audio. Be sure you also provide a place for students to respond if they have questions.
  • Meeting: Offer a face-to-face meeting with students. Although this may be thoughtful, be sensitive to students whose circumstances or location may not allow them to attend. You may need to offer multiple options so all students are accommodated. Plan to have a live-streamed video recording of the session for those students who cannot attend in person.

Setting expectations

In an online class, you may need to provide extra clarification to assist students in understanding expectations.

Share your expectations for communication at the beginning of your class. Be up front with students about all forms of communication. Establish a set time for office hours and how you will accommodate them, be it email, Skype, over the phone, or otherwise. Let them know how quickly you will reply to emails, provide feedback on assignments, and other responses.

Set expectations for how students will communicate with each other. Remind them of the basics, such as good netiquette, being respectful of others’ opinions, writing in full sentences with correct grammar, and never posting personal information such as home addresses, financial information, passwords, or social security numbers.

Finally, you need to be sure your students can use the required class technology. If you have created instructions or a tutorial for how your course will work, tell the students they need to watch the tutorial or read the instructions; this will save you lots of questions from them later. Ensure they know who to contact for technical questions. If your course requires specific technology or equipment—such as a web cam or high-speed internet access—make sure this is in the syllabus so students are aware of the need to purchase or locate the necessary tools for success. 


Online Course Delivery Checklist. This checklist, developed by faculty with UNCG Online, can assist you with ensuring you communicate with students at key points before, during, and at the end of the course.

Template of Expectations for Online Students (Word Doc, 9KB). You can use this template to write your own expectations for students.

Template of Instructor Expectations (Word Doc, 5KB). You can use this template to write expectations for yourself to share with students.

Test Yourself

Write out your expectations for the course you are about to teach. What special considerations do you have for your online students?

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