Resources for Preparing Your Course
The Delphi Center supports faculty in the development of their face-to-face, blended and online courses. These resources have been compiled based on research-based standards and best practices. We hope that you can use these resources to prepare for your courses.
A Note About Online Courses
The growth of online courses continues to rise at an exceptional rate. The non-traditional or working student can now "attend" classes on a schedule that fits his/her lifestyle and responsibilities. A popular misconception among students, however, is that online courses are easier and take less time to complete. This is generally not true, especially if the course is pedagogically sound and thoughtfully designed. It takes a great deal of careful planning and preparation for the instructor to develop an engaging course — a course that fosters learning and keeps the students interested in the material.
One of the reasons online courses typically have a higher attrition rate when compared to face-to-face courses is the isolation and disengagement that can occur in an online environment. It is more difficult to build community and active engagement remotely, but it is not impossible. Below are some instructional design tips and best practices that will help you in developing and delivering an effective course rich in structure, engagement and pedagogy.
The Delphi Center instructional designers have compiled resources to help you through all stages of your course.
Regular and Substantive Interaction in Online and Distance Learning
Per federal law, institutions must ensure that the online courses for which students use federal financial aid have regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors.
Regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor is required for courses to be classified as “distance education” courses and not "correspondence courses" by the US Department of Education.
University online courses must be designed to facilitate regular and substantive interaction between instructors and students.
Institutions failing to comply with regular and substantive interaction requirements could potentially lose eligibility for Title IV funds and could be required to return financial aid disbursed for courses found in violation.
Regular and substantive interaction is more than a federal requirement, however. It is also a hallmark of effective teaching. Decades of research have established that teacher-student interactions are an essential component of learning.
Quality MattersTM (QM) is an internationally recognized set of standards for online course design which has been adopted by the University of Louisville.
General Standard 5 aims to assess a course on the learning activities and learner interactions that could be helpful in evaluating online course interactions related to Regular and Substantive Interaction.
Standard 5.2 - Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning
- Includes learner-content, learner-instructor, and learner-learner interactions
- Not about the number of interactions but the quality of interaction
- Learner-instructor interaction could include an online discussion either synchronous or asynchronous via grade feedback, discussion board, or video conferencing.
Standard 5.3 - The instructor's plan for interacting with learners during the course is clearly stated.
- Decide when students should expect to hear from you and clearly state it in the syllabus or at the beginning of the course.
- Examples of times students may hear from instructors include instructor participation in the discussion boards, weekly announcements, summary feedback to the whole class (versus individual student feedback), and additional feedback on auto-graded quizzes and tests.
- It is good practice to set expectations of your response time to emails or messages from students.
Policy Information and Resources
- The university has published a policy on regular and substantive interaction. View the policy.
- If you need more information about how to apply this policy to your online course, refer to the training module.
- View the federal regulations.
- The following articles from WCET, a leading higher education policy organization, details the history behind and elements of regular and substantive interaction:
- The Delphi Center has created a summary document which overviews key considerations in online courses. View the summary document [PDF].
Resources for Assistance and Training
Need Help with Course Development?
Meet with one of the Delphi Center's instructional designers or teaching consultants to learn how to enhance your current class or to design a new face-to-face or online course. Learn more.
LinkedIn Resources to Support the Development of Online Courses
The Instructional Design and Technology team has curated a list of LinkedIn Resources to support faculty who are designing, updating, or facilitating an online course. To access these LinkedIn resources, click here.
Programs and Events
The Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning is a faculty development center dedicated to teaching excellence. Faculty members, both full and part-time, are encouraged to participate in the Delphi Center's many programs. These programs assist in the professional development of the faculty at UofL by providing valuable and leading-edge information to faculty on a variety of issues, from technology, to best practices in teaching and learning, to research and assessment.