10 rules for developing your first online course

These online rules discuss time management, web design and providing content in different formats.


Years of helping faculty pass to the dark side of online education have taught me a few simple rules that I brow beat (in a collegial way) into all new online teachers.

Rule 1: Provide Extra Detail in Your Online Syllabus
Most of us spend much of the first day of class going through the syllabus, taking time to elaborate on different points, and answering questions as we go along.

Online classrooms lack this time, and so the syllabus must be more detailed than it would be for a face-to-face class, especially when it comes to procedures. You can also preempt problems and save time answering questions by creating a discussion forum devoted to common questions about the class itself.

Rule 2: Begin with Community Building
Despite appearances, online education is (should be) a fundamentally communal endeavor, with discussion taking center stage. But discussion requires trust, which can be built through community-building exercises. Some educators even recommend spending the first two weeks on community building, asserting that it will pay for itself in better performance over the remainder of the course.

(Next page: Rules 3-6)

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