Teaching Online at UTEP
Academic departments select and appoint instructors to teach online classes regardless of whether the classes are offered for traditional or for UTEP Connect programs. Instructors may be appointed to teach courses that run a full semester or a shorter part-of-term course. Instructors teaching any online class are expected to adhere to all UTEP policies regarding instruction.
UTEP requires online instructors to exhibit mastery of the online environment and the Blackboard LMS. Instructors are to review and learn the key features and tools within Blackboard and maintain mastery of both subject matter and instructional methods. To effectively teach and manage an online course, instructors will:
- Attain skills needed to create and modify lessons, facilitate discussions, grade assignments, and make technical accommodations for students registered with The Center for Accommodations and Support Services (CASS)
- Become proficient in the selection and use of a variety of online instructional tools, including synchronous and asynchronous communication methods
- Be trained on how to revise course documents to keep them up-to-date and accurate during course design and course delivery
There are several misconceptions regarding online teaching, including that:
- Online instruction takes less time because instructors do not have to physically be in a classroom
- There will be little class participation
- PowerPoints, discussion boards, and recorded lectures are sufficient course materials
Online Teaching Requirements
For accreditation purposes, instructors must be credentialed to teach a course. Instructor credentialing is initiated by the academic department in which the instructor will teach. The instructor is required to submit a CV and all post-secondary transcripts.
Offering high-quality educational and engaging courses is the cornerstone of an effective online program. Most importantly, one needs to ensure that courses are designed to maximize students' learning potential and that they are accessible to all learners. One also ought to ensure that courses are effectively designed to help students navigate the materials and assignments effectively and have a positive learning experience. To help instructors teach effective online courses, the Center for Instructional Design (CID) offers instructional design resources to all instructors for new course development, redesign of existing courses, or compression of a semester-long or part-of-term course
Once a new program is marketed and recruitment has begun, CID will assist program instructors in the development of their courses for online delivery.
Preparing to teach an online course for the first time includes three significant steps:
- Instructional Design Foundation
- Course Development
- Quality Control
CID's instructional design team works jointly with the subject matter expert (in this case, the course instructor) to successfully develop a course to be offered in a 100% online environment, using best practices for online delivery and guiding instructors on how to use the tools provided within Blackboard.
The development timeline consists of approximately three months, starting with the Online Course Development Proposal, to the development of course content, and ends with a rigorous quality and technical review.
Instructors developing course content will provide course material including lessons, activities, and assessments. The course’s assigned instructional designer will assist with addressing student engagement and instructor presence and complying with copyright, accessibility, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
In subsequent semesters, the instructional designer is available to transfer content over from previous semesters and to assist with minor updates to the course.
CID will provide support in all aspects of the development process:
- Instructors must complete the Online Course Development Agreement before beginning course development with their assigned instructional designer.
- Instructors must complete the Teaching Online Academy (TOA) before course launch unless otherwise noted.
- Instructors will collaborate with CID to ensure courses are aligned with university policies, accessibility guidelines, and online best practices.
- CID will contact the instructor six to eight weeks before the course starts to begin course development.
- Once the course is completed, CID will give the department chair access to the course.
- The department chair will review the course and email CID with approval.
As the subject matter expert, the instructor provides the content, i.e. lessons, assessments, and activities. The instructional designer will work with the instructor to find ways to make content more engaging for students, as well as ensure that the course materials are compliant with copyright standards and the ADA.
All course development should be completed at least two weeks before the semester starts to leave enough time for a quality review (for newly developed content) and technical review.
CID instructional designers are available to consult with instructors and staff and ensure that:
- Course design meets quality standards of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and UTEP
- Course materials meet both standards of copyright and ADA compliance as required by SACSCOC and federal law
- Courses are well-developed and engaging
Once course development is complete, it will undergo an online technical review:
- Technical reviews are completed for every online course section every semester before the course start date. This form evaluates ADA compliance and the functionality of the course’s content. The goal is to provide a fully accessible and 100% compliant online course. Please be aware that this form may require the instructor to make additional updates to achieve full accessibility. Adobe Acrobat Pro is available to UTEP instructors for free (to enable OCR in PDFs) by submitting a request to UTEP Technology Support.
- Course Map Template
- Course Syllabus Example - Sample syllabus with detailed explanations in the margins. This syllabus is modeled using Rhetoric and Composition material as well as required University policies. Please use this as a guide when creating online syllabi. Customize the content and delete the comments in the margins before use.
- Course Calendar Template - Sample calendar to be used as a template for the class schedule of assignments and related events. This is a stand-alone document and should not be added to the class syllabus (for increased usability and accessibility). For a more consistent course experience, instructors are encouraged to schedule repeated assignments or assessments (like weekly discussion boards and quizzes) on the same day and time.
Professional Development for Faculty
The CID team also trains instructors on emerging technologies and instructional resources used to effectively manage or enhance all types of teaching.
Teaching Online Academy (TOA)
Faculty new to online teaching must complete the TOA and can sign up via MineTracker. This is a four-week, asynchronous, online course facilitated by our instructional designers. Instructors will learn best practices for teaching an online class. CID recommends taking the TOA the semester before beginning course development.
Faculty, staff, and graduate students are encouraged to participate in these learning academies and can sign up via MineTracker. All courses are offered throughout the academic year to help instructors keep abreast of new technologies and pedagogical research.