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Getting Your Courses Online Fast : A Simple Checklist

By Michael Atkinson and Sarah Polhill |


Photo by Breakingpic | Pexels

Now is the time for educators to have a concrete “to do” list for moving their courses online. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide educators with a list of the basic components of an online course and helpful resources to speed up the process.


1) Make a (Very Simple) Plan

Start with pen and paper or a word processor before moving into your Learning Management System (LMS). What do you want to teach and how? Consider how you will adapt your daily lectures or lesson plans to an online format.


2) Upload the Syllabus

Most Learning Management Systems have a “syllabus” tab where students can easily find it and allow you to upload your syllabus there.


3) Create the Course Homepage

This doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just give students a basic introduction to what will be covered and a small plan to aid them as they navigate through your course.


Some teachers like to customize their homepage with banners and images. If you are interested, Instructure has a home page tutorial video for Canvas users. .


4) Create Course Week 1 Module

You can use this Module as a template for future modules. We will use terms for Canvas, but most LMS’s will follow a similar pattern.


You will separate each unit of work into Modules. Students navigate through modules to get a sense of the course plan or schedule.


Each module may contain…


  • Pages: students go here to find what they should be learning. One or more module pages are ideal for providing content like text, videos, or readings. They can also break a lot of content down into manageable sized pieces for students.

  • Assignments: students use assignments to practice and demonstrate what they have learned. You can assign point values to these and grade them. Students can upload many different types of files. For accessibility reasons you may want to be flexible about how they turn in their work.

  • Quizzes: students take quizzes to be assessed and show what information they are recalling or retaining. On canvas you can create graded or ungraded questions including true or false, multiple choice, fill in the blank(s), multiple answer, multiple dropdowns, matching, numerical answer, formula, essay, or file upload questions. You can also give students rich feedback in quizzes to replicate what you might tell them while reviewing a quiz in the classroom.


Instructure has a collection of simple Canvas video tutorials for anything else you plan to build in Canvas. If you are using a different LMS, you will likely be able to find similar tutorials on your LMS company website.


Quizzes and assignments also give you valuable touchpoints to communicate and give individualized feedback to your students while they work online.


5) Student Help Screencast Videos

Consider developing a few screencast videos for your students where you can show them exactly what to do online using video footage of your own screen.


Screencastomatic is a great, free resource with tools for screencasting and tutorials. Screencast tools allow you to easily record something you do on your computer and then show it with video playback… it’s like your students are standing over your shoulder as you show and tell things.


6) Familiarize Your Students with LMS Navigation and Settings

Students may be learning unfamiliar tools as well, and may need to learn how to get around and use them. You can screencast a short tutorial of your own or use Instructure’s canvas video tutorials for students.


7) Accessibility Compliance Workflow Tools:

Instructors are asked to make their courses accessible for people with various disabilities. This can be a challenge for teachers who are rushing to move their material online, but it is essential for students during this time.


Here are a few quick tips:


1. Research how to make your courses accessible for specific students with disabilities in your classes.

2. Make sure you create “alt text” for any instructional images so that a screen reader can read the image for a student who is blind. Also provide PDF transcriptions for videos for screen readers.

3. Keep pages and content simple in design for students who experience sensory overload. Make sure that the colors have enough contrast so that all students can read the content.


The Mapping Access blog has released a fantastic article outlining Accessible Teaching in the Time of Covid-19.


Home Office Digital has a more comprehensive collection of posters with accessibility guidelines.


Remember to keep it simple at a time like this: don’t let perfect be the enemy of good! At Construct, we hope this gives instructors a concrete place to start building your courses. If you have any questions, need more resources, or just need to talk, we’ll listen. Send us a message or visit our dedicated COVID-19 Rapid Response Support page and we’ll be in touch.

Michael Atkinson

Chief Learning Officer at Construct


Sarah Polhill

Learning Designer at Construct