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Creating your Course Activities

Matching Learning Objectives to Activities and Assessments
The Course Design Matrix will help you align your learning objectives and outcomes with appropriate activities and assessments.

Seven Principles of Effective Distance Teaching

Principle 1: Good Practice Encourages Student- Faculty Contact
Promote interaction and provide clear guidelines and policies regarding communication .

  • Ask students to identify their sites and to introduce their names.
  • Rotate between sites to ensure that all students are involved.

  • Schedule weekly/biweekly virtual office hours using Bb Chat feature.
  • Visit Remote Sites, if possible.
  • Call individuals by name.
  • Post students pictures when possible.
  • Maintain eye contact with camera.
  • Clarify email turnaround (ex.: I will respond to emails on within 24 hours. I will not respond to emails that do not have course ID in their subject line.).
  • Encourage all students to ask questions.

Principle 2: Good Practice Encourages Cooperation Among Students
Well designed discussion, group activities, collaborative assignments facilitate and nurture learning communities. Here are some suggestions for creating an environment for meaningful discussion:

  • Require/Encourage students to participate.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for interaction and collaboration.
  • Create learning teams (three to eight students).
  • Provide clear guidelines/requirements/expectations for discussions and collaborative activities.
  • Keep group activities small and focused.
  • Provide timely feedback, encouragement and directions.
  • Share your evaluation rubrics and criteria.
  • Implement peer review and grading .

Principle 3: Good Practice Encourages Active Learning
Engage students and provide multiple opportunities to interact, reflect and learn from each other:

  • Debate, discuss, share, present projects and ideas.
  • Reflect, apply, summarize paraphrase ideas.
  • Ask students to develop questions from readings.
  • Ask students to paraphrase/present/exemplify complex concepts.
  • Ask students to summarize major points from previous class or weekly readings.
  • Encourage students to complete a learning contract (own objectives, learning activities, criteria and methods of evaluation.).
  • Facilitate the use of note-taking as a potential active learning strategy. Provide handouts/outlines/diagrams to facilitate note taking. Provide your lecture notes online before the class.

Principle 4: Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback
Provide multiple feedback opportunities to facilitate student/instructor interaction and reduces students anxiety:

  • Acknowledge reception of assignements.
  • Provide timely and personal feedback (answering questions, comments, annotate papers and exams, etc.).

Principle 5: Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task
Clarify time commitments and expectations:

  • Provide multiple deadlines to help students reduce procrastination and manage their time.
  • Clarify requirements and expectations.
  • Keep assignments feasible and realistic.
  • Encourage regular communication with yourself and other students.

Principle 6: Good Practice Communicates High Expectations
Communicate and share your expectations with your students:

  • Provide clear guidelines, expectations and requirements.
  • Share exemplary papers (past student projects, papers, etc.).
  • Share examples of what not to do.
  • Praise exemplary work.


Principle 7: Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
Keep student learning styles in mind, provide options and encourage students to take ownership of their learning process

  • Encourage students to complete learning styles inventories
  • Diversify content presentation: text, graphics, animation, audio/visuals. Keep in mind the omnipresence of visual culture in our society (MTV Generation, internet).
  • Use different activities: lecture, group discussion, pairs, videos, role play, etc.
  • Allow students to select relevant project topics.