Blog from June, 2017

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Getting ready to teach online this summer? This checklist will help you prepare.

#1 – Review the most recent updates to the online learning system.

#2 – Get familiar with the Academy's Online Teaching Standards.

New standards were established in Spring 2017, so make sure you are familiar with the current expectations. Review the list and download the rubric to help you assess your own effectiveness as an online instructor.

#3 – Review the Workday requirements for reporting your hours (for part-time instructors only).

#4 – Plan your time.

#5 – Clarify and post your expectations.

#6 – Make your class student-ready.

#7 – Introduce yourself via video — and ask your students to do the same. Learn more: Connecting with your students via video

You might also consider tagging all your students in this initial post. Learn more: More tips for tagging

#8 – Take care of administrative tasks.

  • Update your contact information in WorkDay.

  • Contact HR ( to update your contact information in the Academy's official record.

#9 – Set up an online office (optional).

#10 – Get some support.

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In many studio classes, peer critique is an essential part of the learning process. How can you facilitate this process in the online environment?

The Challenge

Before an assignment deadline, students are scrambling to complete their own work. While a few students might post their assignments early, most are working down to the wire. So there's no time for them to look at their classmates' work before the deadline.

The Strategy

An approach pioneered by the Photography Department is now built into the Discussion interface, making it simple for you to ensure that students have time to review and comment on one another's work. Here's how it works:

  • Any topic designated as an assignment (i.e., a gradable topic) has not only an opening date and a due date but also a separate closing date. Students must post their assignments by the due date, or else they are marked "late."

    You may have noticed that there are three dates listed for each topic on the main discussion page: an opening date, a due date, and a closing date.

    Click on any image to enlarge.

    By default, the opening date is set to the first day of the module, and the due date and closing date are set to the last day of the module. In discussions, the due date and the closing date are always the same.

    But in an assignment, you can set a closing date that’s after the due date. The due date is the deadline for this assignment. Students have to get their work in by this date. But by setting a closing date that’s later than the due date, you accomplish two things:

    • First, you won’t need to create a separate topic for late homework. If students submit their work after the due date, their posts will automatically be marked late. So if it’s your policy to allow students to submit late work, you can simply extend the closing date to give them some extra time.

    • What’s more, the extended closing date allows students time to review and post comments on one another’s work — without your having to manually reopen the topic. Comments made after the due date are not marked as late; but late posts are marked. For more information, watch the tutorial on Posts & Comments.

    You can change the dates for any topic by editing it.

  • As the instructor, you can extend an assignment's closing date beyond its due date.

  • In the days between the assignment deadline (due date) and the closing date, students have time to review each other's work — and they can post comments on that work.

  • Once the closing date is reached, the peer critique discussion is over. 

(star) New!! (star)

Now the development team has streamlined this process by adding an interface that lets you extend the close dates for all your assignments at once. Instead of editing each topic individually, you can now quickly specify how many days to allow for peer critique for every assignment. Just navigate to the page for Current Topics or Pending Topics or Global Topics to find this tool.

What if...?

This is the first in a new series of posts addressing Common Teaching Problems (and their solutions). I hope you find them helpful!

If you have suggestions for topics you would like to see addressed in this series, please post a comment, below, or drop me a line (

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The Online Education Department continues to enhance and update the Academy's online learning system.

Here's a list of what has changed since the start of the spring semester — with links to the blog posts that explain the changes in greater detail:

  • You can now choose whether you start from your Home page or from the Portal page, when you log into the online learning system. Learn More: Where do you want to land?
  • Freehand drawing, straight line/arrow, rectangle, and ellipse tools are now available in Notes. These new tools enhance your options for marking up student images. Learn More: New "Notes" drawing tools! (includes tutorials)
  • A new tool allows students to mark their post or comment as a question for the instructor — and this sends you a notification. Learn more: Your students have questions!

If you've been away from online teaching for more than a semester, you might want to check out these posts, as well:

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If you are returning to online teaching after a year or more away, you may be startled to see how our Discussion interface has changed in your absence. Here are some resources to help you get up to speed with all these changes.

Review the Teaching Online Training Course

The Teaching Online training course has been revised to reflect the system upgrades. I have set up a special section of the course for returning online instructors. You can review the modules at your convenience, post questions in the discussion, and practice with the new interface. I'll be monitoring the class and will be available to answer your questions. (Remember that the Academy compensates part-time instructors for their training time. Learn more: Reporting your hours in Workday)

If you would like to be enrolled in the training, please get in touch with me (

Attend an Online Workshop

Online Education staff offer several workshops at the start of the semester to help new instructors — and continuing instructors who have not worked in the new interface — get up to speed. You are welcome to attend. In addition to open Q&A sessions, there are workshops on Teaching in your Online Office. Check out the schedule here: Teacher Training Workshops.

Get familiar with the Academy's new Online Teaching Standards

In Spring 2017, the Academy established a new set of standards for online teaching, to ensure that our students have the best possible educational experience. It's crucial that you familiarize yourself with these standards before you teach online again. Learn moreStandards for Online Instructors.

Additional Resources

Prefer to go it alone? Here are some materials that will help:

  • The Discussion Navigation page includes tutorials and cheat sheets that provide an overview of how the new discussion interface works.

  • You'll also want to take a look at the Grading/Critiquing Tutorial, which walks you through the new process for reviewing and grading assignments.

  • Is your class using The Gradebook? Review these training materials to get up to speed.

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