Developing and delivering online course content

If you choose to create your own course material, keep file sizes small; students may have limited access to technology and the internet, and downloading large files could take hours. Here are some options for creating content:

When developing your course materials:

  • Determine essential content: Be concise when selecting and designing content. Focus on what is absolutely required to help students achieve the intended learning outcomes.
  • Chunking: Record lecture content in 5 - 10 minute segments, less than 500 MB, and intersperse those segments with small activities that help students process the new knowledge, make connections to other concepts, apply an idea, or make some notes in response to prompts. Smaller chunks also lead to smaller files, which is an advantage when bandwidth is limited. 
  • Be aware of copyright requirements: Model good practice to your students. The Library can help you source and adapt appropriate e-resources with regard to copyright and licensing.
  • Consider asynchronous teaching methods: remote teaching should rely primarily on asynchronous methods. Lectures, groupwork, student presentations, and so on often need to be adapted to work well when students cannot all be online at the same time.
  • What can your students contribute: Some courses may rely on students to develop course content (e.g., student presentations in seminar courses). Students can use tools like Bongo to develop content to share in your course as well.

Note: If you have a course that is already fully online it may be possible to copy some content (and LEARN tool setup) from it into your new LEARN course. Please submit a Course Component Copy Request.

Delivering Online Course Content

  • Limit the use of live video: You can deliver live lectures with Bongo Virtual Classroom or WebEx, but you should keep live delivery to a minimum as some students might not have reliable internet, or be in your time zone. Please see the Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Learning page for further guidance. Live video can also be used for short tutorial sessions. Be sure to record it and make it available in LEARN. You may also offer to use live video for office hours with individuals or groups of students, but be sure to offer less technology-intensive options as well (e.g., telephone, email). Please review the Privacy in Recordings page, which includes a downloadable notification template to post in your course. 
  • The Comparison of Tools for Synchronous Teaching table provides a quick comparison of the various tools you may be considering for synchronous events within your course and whether or not they are integrated with LEARN. All tools in the table are centrally supported by Waterloo except Zoom, which has not had a Privacy and Information Risk Assessment conducted at Waterloo.
  • It's not just about content: Consider ways that you can include messaging and use tools (e.g., discussion forums, announcements, virtual office hours etc.) to make students feel connected and cared about: acknowledge the current challenges, and remind them that their class is a community of caring individuals.