Topic 9: Course Management and Planning
Instructor's Notes


Creating a Plan for Managing Your Course

As you design a course it is important to consider how the course will be managed. While many of the traditional rules of how courses are conducted can be assimilated into the online environment, some cannot.

A few of the key course management issues

  • How will communications with the students be tracked and organized?
  • How will homework assignments be submitted, tracked and organized?
  • How will discussions between students be handled?
  • If you require online discussion, how will it be graded? Who will facilitate it?
  • Will the instructor play a role in the online discussion?
  • How will collaborative assignments be graded, organized, tracked, and submitted?
  • How will groups be formed?
  • How much feedback should students expect?
  • How soon should students expect to receive feedback?
  • How will late submissions be handled?
  • How will technical failures be handled? If the student says, "The dog ate my hard drive." or "My electricity was shut off in a roving blackout." how will that be handled?
  • What are the rules of etiquette in the online environment? What ‘netiquette" policy will you institute? How will rude students, aggressive students, and students who don’t participate be handled?
  • What is the ideal number of students per section?
  • What institutional support will be available to you and the students for technical help?
  • If there are attendance requirements at the institution you are working with how will you address that?
  • Will you hold "office hours" where you can be reached in person, by phone, chat, or instant messenger?
  • Will the course be inside a course management system?

Course Management Systems

Teaching an online course can be very time consuming. Many institutions have adopted Course Management Systems also called Learning Management Systems. The Course Management Systems are software packages that integrate a series of tools that help teachers and administrators track and communicate with students. Most of the software currently available bundles all the administrative features into one integrated system that includes:

1. a site for each course and each section with

  • a list of all students and teachers with email messaging
  • chat
  • discussion board
  • automated grading functions for tests and quizzes
  • ftp sites for uploading and sharing student work
  • collaborative online white boards where one person can draw and all others logged on can see and comment
  • announcement boards

2. HTML editors and templates making it easy to format, upload and link Web pages

3. integration with institutional tracking and registration systems

4. secure logins for administrators, teachers, and students

The drawbacks of the using these packages are:

  • there is a learning curve required in learning to navigate through yet another software tool for both teachers and students
  • the Course Management Systems packages are expensive
  • the collaborative learning tools are quite primitive
  • versions are frequently upgraded and are proprietary


Netiquette is the name of the etiquette or social protocol instituted by an instructor in the online environment. It is important to let the students know what the standards are for communication in the group.

According to Lynnette R. Porter in Creating the Virtual Classroom this list will help make your email communication more effective.

Keep messages short. A short message is easier to read and respond to than a long scrollable message.

Get to the point. State the purpose of your message and use a direct style.

Be polite. Brevity doesn't mean abruptness. Request information and explain why you need it or how it will be used.

Indicate if you are responding to someone else's message. Thank the person who'll receive the message for the information you are requesting.

Write coherent, grammatically correct messages.

Email should be less formal than a letter, memorandum, or other document, but it should still follow the conventions of standard English.

Know where you are sending the message. If you intend to send message to a mailing list or newsgroup, for example, check the address to ensure the message will be sent to the entire group.

If you are sending a message to only one individual from a group, double check the address to ensure that your message is going to only that person. Otherwise you may find yourself in the embarrassing situation of sending a personal message to an entire group.

Make sure the receiver knows at a glance who sent the message.
This is especially important if your username is different from your actual name.

Another netiquette
Netiquette Home Page by


Review the policy for workload developed by Wytheville Community College
"Distance Learning Faculty Load Policy"

Review the "Fair Use Guidelines for
Educational Multimedia" developed by the American Distance Education Consortium.

Review the lesson on "Group Work: Collaborative learning online" developed by Scott Vigallon for Las Positas College


Table of Contents

Developing an Effective Online Class
© Valerie Landau, 2001