Good course planning can help prevent an online course from being excessively driven by technology. Plan your course first, consider the options carefully in technology, and if possible, just introduce one new technique at a time, until you are comfortable with it. Research outside resources about quality issues in online teaching. Areas to be particularly concerned about in a completely online course include the following:
- Introductory email instructions. All students need an introductory email from you telling about where the course is and the basic requirements. Clear online instructions are sequential. Tell the students what they must do in a step-by-step fashion. Keep the number of links down in this area of your course--the more external links in your instructions, the more likely students won't get back to your page. The clearer your online instructions are, the fewer questions you'll have to answer.
- Feedback and personalization. While many online students are able to complete activities on their own, others need the motivation only the faculty member can give and a sense of community of peers. One way to personalize an online course is to include a bulletin board assignment that asks for student biographies and another is to create a five minute down-loadable video introducing yourself. Using synchronous chat will give students instantaneous feedback and motivation.
- Grading. Anything that you want the students to do or learn must be graded or at least have a point system or check assigned to it, because you won't be physically present to nag. The students will complete a bulletin board assignment if you are clear about the way it will be graded and they will read an article if there is an online quiz about it. This may mean that you need to create one quiz per week or more, but it can be graded and put in your gradebook automatically.