Managing a Course Online

Information Technology Services (ITS) provides a range of resources to help Carolina’s faculty successfully create and manage courses online. Click a link above for more information.

Resources for Students

Provide online readings

When posting reading assignments online, realize that many students print these documents, and printing long or graphics-heavy documents takes time and paper. In addition, undergraduate students have a limited printing allotment and are charged additional funds after they use the allotment. Printing out all readings for a course can be expensive. Keep in mind that online readings are not a replacement for course packs.

Consider using the highlighting tool to emphasize key points in an online reading so students can identify and print only the most important portions of the document. The UNC-Chapel Hill libraries can work with you to explore efficient and legal ways to make online versions of articles available to your students.

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Post study questions online

Posting questions creates an online repository of questions for students, which could be stored in Sakai Resources. Questions sent to students via email can serve as reminders of assignments. Instructors could use different communication tools in Sakai to email students.

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Post questions and answers (Q&As)

Non-graded Q&As on the Web provide immediate feedback and allow students to review at their own pace.

For Q&As designed purely for independent student review, you can create:

  • A simple set of Web pages with questions and answers
  • Web pages that include questions and links to pop-up hints or answers

For Q&As designed for student review AND to help you monitor students’ understanding of the material, you can use Sakai Tests & Quizzes.

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Offer key resource links

Even if you do not have experience with Web editing or html, Sakai Resources can help you easily create an online resource list or link to external sites outside of Sakai.

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Student Activities

Locate and evaluate resources

The UNC libraries provide excellent services for teaching students how to effectively search for online materials and evaluate the effectiveness of these materials. In addition, each library has an online tutorial on these topics. These tutorials can be customized and assigned to students in your course.

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Publish materials on the Web

Via a published Web page, students can present their work to an audience outside the class. Before asking students to take on this task, consider the following questions:

  • Why should their work be available publicly on the Web?
  • Can the goals of the assignment be met with an alternative format?
  • Do you have an effective alternative for students with privacy concerns?

Consider having students publish their work online by creating a website through the self-service web publishing site, WordPress.

To preserve class time, consider assigning a self-guided tutorial or training session before the project begins.

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Create PowerPoint presentations

It is common for students to create PowerPoint slides containing impressive graphics but no real content, or text-heavy slides that are hard to follow. The resources below can help students create more effective PowerPoint presentations.

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Submit assignments online

There are several ways that students can submit assignments online:

  • Email is the simplest method, but your inbox can quickly become flooded. To avoid this problem, you can create filters in your email client to sort incoming student mail into a specific folder.
  • The Sakai Assignments tool allows students to electronically submit their written tasks to be stored in one location. You can easily bulk-download, grade, and release feedback to students.
  • The Sakai Drop Box keeps paper submissions separate from other messages but is not recommended for a large class. An alternative is to have students submit files to the Drop Box. Then you can return them via email. This practice keeps their files in one location for you to download, but your responses won’t add to the clutter of the Drop Box.

When students submit their assignments electronically, you can add inline comments via a review tool (like the one in Microsoft Word). With soft copy documents, it is also easy for you to excerpt segments to use in class as examples.

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  • Email for submitting and returning files (Visit dir.unc.edu and search for your email client name.)
  • The Sakai Assignments tool or Drop Box for submitting files to instructors.

Conduct an online class discussion

Online, asynchronous discussions provide a way to discuss, analyze, and write about material outside of the classroom. And because forum posts and replies are structured by topic, they allow participants to easily follow a given line of discussion. Instructors can set up online discussion boards through the Sakai Forums or Discussion and Private Messages tool. You can also limit discussions to specific groups of users.

Another way to conduct online discussion is via a listserv, which allows students to communicate to a specified group of people via email. See the quick links below to learn about other options.

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Collaborate online

UNC currently does not support an instant messaging (IM) tool that is accessible to all UNC Faculty, Staff, and Students. However, your students are likely using one informally. (Note: Microsoft Lync is available to UNC Faculty and Staff)

If you have a Sakai site, you can use the Chat tool within the site.

Also available is Blackboard Collaborate, however its functions are primarily for web conferencing.

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Participate in group projects

For group assignments, Sakai Group-aware tools allow students to:

  • Exchange drafts of material and comments.
  • Store an easily accessible record of this material.
  • Use a virtual chat area for brainstorming and project planning.

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Course Management Tasks

Download course rolls

You can access course rolls via the Web and download them into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Course rolls can include student photos (for instructors’ use only) and a tool for emailing announcements to all students in a class.

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Post a course URL, syllabus, and schedule

For students enrolled in your course, you can post a course Web address, description, and syllabus, and schedule. Once posted, these materials are accessible from any computer with an Internet connection.

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Password protect online course materials

Material in Sakai sites is by default restricted to the instructor(s) and students enrolled in the class. As an instructor, you can enable guest access to your site if needed.

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Make an electronic class announcement

You can post and email out Announcements in your Sakai site to site members or specific users in Groups on your site.

Instructors and students can send messages to each other with the Sakai Messages tool.

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  • Post Announcements to your Sakai course site.
  • Privately message students, specific students in Groups, or all course members through Sakai Messages.

Post notes or outlines online

You can post documents created with a word processing program (like Microsoft Word) or a Web authoring tool (like Dreamweaver) into your Sakai course site or other online platforms.

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Post a PowerPoint presentation

If used effectively, PowerPoint can provide both you and your students with a powerful visual guide for a lecture. If you are concerned that students will skip class because they have your PowerPoint slides, consider posting the slides after class or posting only selected slides rather than the entire presentation. You can also set dates ahead of time for items to be available to students in Sakai Resources.

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Post digital images to the Web:

You can enhance your lecture with digital images that are embedded in a PowerPoint presentation or posted on the Web. Posting images to the Web allows students to access them outside of class. Keep in mind, though, that students with slow Internet connections might find it difficult to download and view large files such as high-resolution images.

Follow these guidelines for posting images to the Web:

  • In Sakai, you can post image files by simply browsing and attaching files. You can also create links to images on the Web or a UNC server.

Note: If you are scanning or posting items that are not your own, see UNC-Chapel Hill’s copyright policies to ensure compliance with copyright law. Specific cases and questions can be addressed to University Counsel.

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Calculate grades

Deliver grades online

The Sakai online Gradebook allows you to input grades and permits students to view their own grades.

Note that grades that are not associated with a quiz created in Sakai must be entered manually.

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