IDEAS Teaching Resources
The following 'best practice' resources can help guide you in the development and teaching of your online, hybrid or technology-enabled course course. As always, please contact us at @email with any questions about these resources.
Collaboration across campus groups developed the UMass Quality Standards for Online Courses to help guide instructors through the design and implementation of flexible online courses. There are 8 identified quality standards, as well as suggestions for how to meet them in a variety of contexts, including for synchronous and asynchronous courses.
The Community of Inquiry model is a cornerstone of many approaches to teaching and learning online. As you explore the resources here, think about how these principles work with teaching styles you've experienced in the past, and what your teaching style is currently. There are additional articles around the scholarship of teaching and learning and from the educational field to expand on your understandings.
This page outlines the importance of equity and inclusion in teaching, and how instructors have a critical role in facilitating these principles within their course. It also has suggestions for ways to create new opportunities to foster inclusion or enhance what you’re already doing to make the course accessible and educational for everyone.
Developing Learning Objectives
This resource will guide you to write effective, clear learning objectives for your entire course, as well as individual module/classes.
This resource introduces the key components of an effective syllabus for an online course, as well as how it’s different from a syllabus for a face-to-face course.
Course Layout & Design
Having a clearly organized course in your LMS is central to the success of your students and the course. Students need to know where to find the materials they need, when assignments are due and how to contact you. Using the course templates and commonly used course menu items and headings can help in this process.
Accessibility and UDL Overview
Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning, or the ideas that students with various abilities, can meaningfully access and participate in all aspects of the course is introduced in this resource, as these concepts are central to designing your course and syllabus.
Creating Accessible Course Materials This resource will guide you in developing course materials that can be accessed and engaged with by all students across a wide spectrum of abilities, ages, experiences, learning environments and other factors.
Approaches to Assessment Online This resource provides an overview of the purpose and types of assessment—diagnostic, formative and summative, and it will help you think about why and how you are assessing in your course.
Formative Assessment Formative assessment is used to monitor learning, give students feedback about their work while it is in progress and help students correct errors or missteps. This resource has guidelines and many concrete examples and models of formative assessment techniques.
Summative Assessment Summative assessments ask students to demonstrate their mastery of course concepts and skills; they include term papers, class presentations, portfolios, and high-stakes exams. This resource shares a variety of examples for individuals/small groups and various course types.
Providing Feedback This resource shares guidelines and suggestions for providing feedback in online courses, as well as links to useful materials, such as rubrics, for the grading process.
Tips for Multiple Choice Exams This resource has strategies for creating effective exams and avoiding student cheating.
This resource guides you in selecting interesting, student-friendly instructional materials (e.g. textbooks, videos, podcasts, OER, etc.), as well as guides you in creating your own resources (e.g. lecture slides and recordings).
Engaging Learning Activities
Effective learning activities help students achieve the learning objectives of the class/course, prepare them for higher-stakes assessment, and build class community. Read on for has principles for designing learning activities and concrete examples for individuals/small groups and various course types.
Facilitating Class Discussions
Discussion forums are commonly used in online courses to develop community, to clarify points of confusion, to share ideas and work, and to develop critical thinking and writing skills. This resource shares ideas for creative ways forums can be used, how to encourage participation, and how to manage large class sizes.
Building Instructor-Student Relationships
Student-Instructor connection is one of the most important aspects of engagement and student retention in both face-to-face and online teaching. This resource presents a brief overview of 4 ways to build relationships with students online, along with links to additional UMass resources that elaborate on these best practices.
Effective Communication Practices Clear, consistent communication is fundamental to a quality online course. This resource walks you through thinking about the different types and purposes of communicating in a course, as well as the tools available and some examples.
Course Welcome and Introductions Taking the time to introduce yourself, your course, and your students to one another helps build community and demonstrates that you, the instructor, are available to support student learning. This resource provides many ideas and examples of ways to introduce your course.
Strategies for teaching to remote students in traditional classrooms There will be many factors that will impact how instructors adapt their courses for students who may be unable to attend class for various reasons. In planning, instructors should consider class size, pedagogical approaches, teaching style, activities, and course goals as well instructor and students’ concerns with synchronous and asynchronous participation. Below are some options to consider as instructors create a contingency plan for handling student absences in their classes when teaching in traditional classrooms.