Readiness Quiz

Before you offer to teach an online course, let's determine if you are ready to teach an online course. Use the Indiana University Online Course Readiness Quiz to see if teaching in an online environment is the right fit for you.

Prepare for Online Teaching

  • Organization

    It is recommended to setup your content week-by-week. You may do this by adding Learning Modules or Content Folders to the Course Content section in the Blackboard course. In the Learning Modules or Content Folders, provide Learning Objectives so students understand what tasks are expected of them for each week.
  • Time Management

    • Since most of us have busy lifestyles, online courses are a great alternative to face-to-face courses. Just because online courses are more flexible, that does not mean you can spend less time teaching the material. Make sure to provide enough time for editing content, responding to students, grading student submissions, etc.
    • Develop a routine. Pick certain times of the day when you work. This will make good use of your time and let students know you are not available 24/7.
    • Try to have most, if not all, of the course built before the semester begins. This prevents you from scrambling at the last minute to add content. This will also save you time responding to student complaints asking for content that should be available.
    • The first time you build/teach an online course may be cumbersome. Just like anything in life, it will take time to adapt.
  • Instructor Presence

    • Communicate on a regular basis. Pick certain times of the day when you respond to students. This will make good use of your time and let students know you are not available 24/7.
    • Create ice breakers in the discussion board for you and your students to provide introductions. This may help create a more friendly environment and a chance to get to know your students.
    • Make it known to students the best way and best time to get in contact with you. Course Messages, Email, and web conferencing are all great tools that can be utilized in an online course. Make sure you are consistent with the tool you use, so students do not get confused.
  • Assessments

    • Assessment of student learning in the online environment offers as many options as you can incorporate in on-ground classes. Course management systems all offer quiz/test modules with great flexibility. Typically, you can have nearly any form of test from simple multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank, to matching, short answer and essay. Quizzes/tests can be timed or open-ended. They can be set to allow the student more than one chance at an answer, or they can be set for one attempt only. They can be time released for a specific date and time period, or they can be conditionally released based upon students meeting a specified criteria. Finally, some of these tests can be automatically computer-scored and entered into an electronic grade book, while others will require manual grading and grade book updating. The specific options that are available for quizzes/tests will vary somewhat by Course Management System. However, you will find enough flexibility in any of the advanced CMSs to more than meet your testing needs.
    • Beyond quizzes and tests, online assessments are much like designing interactions: they are limited almost solely by the instructor imagination. One of the most interesting parts of designing assessments is to develop 'authentic' measures which present tasks that allow students to reflect the kind of mastery that they would be expected to be able to demonstrate in a real world situation. Such strategies typically assess the higher order learning that is reflected in the Bloom taxonomy levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
    • Regardless of the assessment strategy used, aligning assessment to course goals and learning objectives and communicating expectations to students is critical. Students need to know what will be assessed, how it will be assessed, and they need some guideline by which they can monitor their own achievement to see if they are meeting the expectations before they submit an assignment or project. The relationship of performance standards to grades also must to be specified. The need to communicate these factors to students is not unique to the online environment. However, clear requirements are more important in situations where it is not quite as easy for students to resolve issues of clarity and instructor intent. Rubrics provide a very helpful tool in this area. They can help to define expectations for students more clearly and can also help instructors deal with subjective evaluation more objectively.
    • Assessment is a major part of course design and specific assessment activities are typically in place by the time the instructor begins actually facilitating the course.
  • Accessibility


    The Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (Public Act 095-0307) became law on August 20, 2007. The ITAA requires Illinois State agencies and universities to ensure that their websites, systems, and other information technologies are accessible to people with disabilities. The Illinois State Library (ISL), after a review of the Act and the Standards for its implementation developed by the Illinois Department of Human Services, has developed a series of policies for compliance. A central tenet of those policies is that, to the greatest extent possible given fiscal, staffing and technological constraints, as permitted by the ITAA, the ISL will provide accessible versions of materials created by the ISL and contained in our online collections upon the request of our patrons.

    Please view the GSU Web Accessibility Policy and Standards.

  • Technical Skills

    • Aside from the basic computer skills, such as keyboard shortcuts, utilizing web browsers, and sending/receiving emails, instructors should understand how to use different Learning Management Systems (LMS), web conferencing software, and social media. Volunteer to learn new technology that will help students understand the material.
    • Make sure you have the appropriate tools to get the job done. A reliable computer, a strong internet connection, and the appropriate plug-ins to accommodate the LMS. Since GSU's LMS is Blackboard, you can find more information on getting your computer Blackboard ready on the Technology Requirements page.
    • Instructors should be flexible. Technology is changing everyday. In case a technology no longer works in your course or a glitch occurs, you should have a backup. You can then make the appropriate changes to resolve the issue.
    • Get to know your school's LMS. Come to the Faculty Workshops or use the Faculty Tutorials to understand how Blackboard works, so you can better setup courses and assist your students.

Getting Started

If you are ready to teach an online course and you understand how to prepare an online course, please reach out to your department chair to see if there are any online courses available to teach. If you are approved, your name will be added to the Colleague Course Schedule. Once this process is complete, a Blackboard course shell will be generated at least two months prior to the beginning of the semester.

If you are not yet ready to teach an online course or would like to brush up on your skills, please access the Certificate in Online Teaching Program. This will provide you with a better understanding of how online courses work, familiarizing yourself with tools/functionality, and other useful online teaching tips.

The Blackboard Course List will mirror the courses you are scheduled to teach in the GSU Course Schedule. The courses will be available in Blackboard from the first day of the semester until two weeks after the semester is over. Instructors will be able to go into the course and add content, view content, grade, etc. Students will not be able to view those courses outside of the availability dates. Late start courses will be available later in the semester, so please make sure your Blackboard course availability dates match the GSU Course Schedule.

  • Complete FERPA


    In order to gain access to Blackboard, instructors must complete the FERPA form. Please allow several business days for the FERPA approval. A member from IT will notify you when the request has been processed.

    If you would like for a student to become a Teaching Assistant in your online course, a FERPA form must be complete for that student.

    To access the GSU FERPA tutorial and form, please visit the FERPA webpage.

  • Where to Find Blackboard

    You may access Blackboard from three different areas:
    • From the Governors State University's homepage: Proceed to webpage and scroll to the bottom. Under the Academics column, select Blackboard.
    • From the myGSU portal: Proceed to the and login to the myGSU portal using your GSU username and password. Select the orange eLearning Blackboard button above the Quick Links section.
    • From the GSU Blackboard web address: Proceed to the Blackboard login webpage.
  • How to Login to Blackboard

    On the Blackboard login page, please login using your GSU username and password. This is the same username and password for the myGSU portal and the OWA email. In the username field, do not include For more information about logging into Blackboard, please view the Blackboard Login tutorial.

    Need a password reset? Please use the Reset Password Tool or contact the ITS Helpdesk at 708.534.4357.
  • Enroll in the Certificate in Online Teaching Program

    The use of delivering education and training in fully-online and web-enhanced formats continues to expand rapidly, creating a need for professionals with the skills to develop curriculum and facilitate high-quality online learning. The certificate program in online teaching prepares faculty members and trainers in all settings to design, produce, and facilitate online courses in accordance with best-practice guidelines. Every course is offered online with no on-campus requirements.

    For more information regarding the Certificate in Online Teaching program, please visit the ONTL Certificate Program webpage.
  • Overview of Blackboard Course Navigation

    • After you login to a course, notice the left navigation menu. Students will be able to click on those menu links to access materials.
    • Under the left navigation menu is the Control Panel. Access Course Tools, such as Collaborate Ultra (web conferencing), Discussion Board, Rubrics, and more. Also in the Control Panel are Course Reports, the Full Grade Center, and Course Copy. Students only have access to the left navigation menu and cannot view the Control Panel.
    • In content areas, such as Syllabus & Orientation, Course Content, Assignments, and Quizzes and Exams, you may add materials, such as Items (read-only), Files (from your computer or the course), Assignments (drop box for student submissions), and Tests. You may add these materials using the action bar that contains Build Content, Assessments, Tools, and Partner Content.
    • Hovering over titles shows a chevron (down arrow), which is an options menu. Click this to open the options available to that particular item.
    • Near the upper right corner you will notice Edit Mode is ON/OFF. Select on to show all instructor functions and OFF to hide all instructor functions. Turning Edit Mode OFF is similar to what students will view.
    • Near the upper right corner you will notice Student Preview (sphere with arrows icon). Click this icon to change roles from Instructor to Student. This view will show exactly what the students can see.

    For more information, please visit the Navigate Inside a Course webpage.

  • Cross-list Process


    Cross-listing is merging two or more courses/sections together for one course shell in Blackboard. This must be approved by the department chair. If the department chair approves, the department will add the cross-listed courses/sections to Colleague. Once in Colleague, the cross-listed course will be created in Blackboard when the course creation script is run.

    For more information regarding the cross-listing process, please visit the Course Guidelines webpage.
  • Non-academic Course Request


    Blackboard course shells may be requested for "academic use" only and are subject to approval by your department.

    For more information regarding the non-academic course request, please visit the Course Guidelines webpage.

  • Add Teaching Assistant to Course


    Similar to the Complete FERPA section above, since students will be working with other students grades, they will have to go through the FERPA training and fill out the FERPA form. This form will be signed by the instructor and chair for approval.

    For more information regarding adding a Teaching Assistant to a course, please visit the Course Guidelines webpage.