7 Time-Saving Tips for Online Teaching

The growth of online teaching at University of Houston (UH) is increasing every semester. If you are new to online teaching, you might feel overwhelmed when you start receiving multiple daily emails from students or realize that there is just so much to do. As an experienced online-teaching instructor, I would like to share these time-saving tips.

  • Have the students take a syllabus quiz to make sure they have read the syllabus.

    Many students ask questions because they do not read the syllabus. If students know they have to get 100% correct on the syllabus quiz before accessing course content, they are more likely to read syllabus carefully

  • Provide students the contact information of UH technical support so they can get help immediately when they run into technical issues.

    Students will usually contact the instructor first when they have issues submitting assignments, taking exams, or using other Blackboard tools. By providing them the UH IT Help contact information in the beginning of the semester, you’ll save yourself time and help reduce student anxiety. UH IT Support contact information, 713-743-141 and support@uh.edu, can be listed in syllabus and in course navigation menu.

  • Set up a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page:

    During the semester, you’ll receive many student emails that ask the same questions over and over. Compile these questions into an FAQ page and keep it updated each semester. Then, tell students to read this FAQ page before asking any questions.

  • Do not name objects with specific dates.

    Some instructors like to name objects with specific dates because they are easy for students to understand, for example “Module for August 23 – 29” or “Quiz for Sept 20th.” However, if you take this approach you will need to rename objects every semester when you plan to teach the course more than once. The smarter way to do it is to create a date-neutral name for each object, such as Module 1 2, 3, (Quiz 1, 2, 3), so you don’t need to change the dates every semester. Also by doing it this way, you can switch the order of the modules quickly with a minimal number change only.

  • Reuse assignment comments for student feedback.

    The assignment comments to students are very similar every semester. You can capture these routine comments and save in a Word file. Since these comments are tailored to your specific course, you can reuse them or customize them quickly. This tip can be applied to the weekly announcement, email responses, or QuickMark comments in Turnitin assignments.

  • Roll over dates from semester to semester.

    In every new semester, you will spend hours updating due dates, availability dates, and adaptive release of your course content, such as announcements, discussion forums, assignments, blogs, or exams. In Blackboard, you can use the “Date Management” tool to rollover content from a previous course to correspond with new dates in semester. It can save you hours of setup time. Tutorial: Blackboard Date Management.

  • Use Open Educational Resources

    It takes time to develop a new online course. Feel free to use free online materials instead of creating them from scratch. For example, check with the textbook publisher and see if they already have online homework, test banks, videos, or other interactive activities.

If you know any time-saving tips which are not listed above, you are welcome to share them in the “Leave a Reply” area. I also would love to hear your comments for using these tips.


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