Provide an Explicit Course Schedule

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases Quality item, “The course has an explicit pace (e.g., a schedule) to which the students are introduced.”

By: Roslyn Miller, Instructional Designer, CDL

Beyond communicating to students about how the online course is structured, it is important to also think about the rate at which the student will be moving through it. How can you orient your students to the pace of the online course so they can plan accordingly? For instance, a course that requires students to post in the discussion board in the middle of the week and reply to students that respond to them has quite a different pace than a course that offers self-paced assignments.

A schedule that communicates the pace at which students will engage with the course content, assignments, and assessments is helpful to provide. A table can be a useful tool to present a schedule with columns for the time unit (e.g., week), content addressed (e.g., topics, learning objectives), student activities (e.g., assignments, assessments), and due dates.

Many students who take courses online do so partly because of the flexibility in time that online learning typically allows. With this in mind, consider making all of your assignments due at the same time each week, such as Sundays at 11:59 p.m.

What Are Some Ways Your Online Course Can Be Designed to Meet This Standard?

  • As part of the course orientation, include a written statement or a video clearly addressing how the course is structured and paced. Optimally, when and how often should the students access the course? Use the Webcourses@UCF Templater tool to import a Course Orientation and/or Course Expectations page that can be modified.
  • Use the Webcourses@UCF Templater tool to import a Course Schedule template that has header columns formatted to enable assistive technologies such as screen readers to communicate table structure to students with blindness. Templates exist for both fully online and blended class modalities.
  • In blended courses that contain both in-person and online components, address both components in the schedule. Clearly specify the dates, times, and locations of in-person meetings.
  • For each module or unit, provide an orientation that communicates to the student how far they have come in the course, what they will be doing for that module, and what is coming up. Use the Webcourses@UCF Templater tool to import a Module Introduction page as well as a Module Summary page for each module.

What Does This Look Like in a Real Online Course?

Example 1: Sandy Galura, NGR5720 (Organizational Dynamics)

Screenshot of Course schedule

Example 2. Elizabeth Brendel Horn, THE2305 (Script Analysis)

Elizabeth Brendel Horn addressed both the live synchronous class meetings and online activities for each week in her blended course. Note also due dates for all assignments are due at the same time at the end of each week.

Screenshot of Course schedule showcasing module 3

Example 3. Beatriz Reyes-Foster, ANT3610 (Language and Culture)

Dr. Reyes-Foster offered a suggested daily schedule for each module in order to optimally guide her students in the mixed-mode class.

Screenshot of a schedule for 1 week/module
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