Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata


These materials support the Teaching Online training course (AAU 020), which all instructors must complete before beginning their first semester of online teaching.

Online Teaching Checklist: Getting Started Online

Download this Checklist


1.1:  Review the Workday Training Materials.

In addition to the time you spend teaching your class and handling various administrative tasks, the Academy also pays part-time instructors for the time you spend completing this training course, attending online workshops, and working with your teaching coach. You will need to keep track of your training and coaching hours — as well as all the other hours you spend teaching your online class — and report them each week in Workday as "training time." 

Learn more about Reporting your hours in Workday.

1.2:  Try out the Discussion.

Throughout the semester, the Discussion for this training class will be open to provide a place for you to connect with your colleagues and to ask questions about what you’re learning and experiencing. You may also find announcements and additional training materials pertinent to beginning online instructors.

  • Beginning inside the training class, click on the “Discussion” link on the class menu to open the main Discussion page.
  • Read the initial announcements.
  • Then open Task 1.2, introduce yourself to your colleagues, and complete the other tasks listed. 

As you go through this training, you can post your questions in the Discussion, as well.

As you begin your training, check in with Your Teaching Coach by posting a note in the Discussion for the training class. Decide together how you and your coach (and the other new instructors in this training) will work together and how you will communicate.

1.4:  Review the Standards for Online Instructors.

Our Standards for Online Instructors clarify the Academy's expectations for online teaching. It is a great tool for evaluating your own development as an online instructor.  In addition, your Teaching Coach will use a modified version of this rubric to give you feedback on your teaching. Please take some time now to familiarize yourself with our standards, and download the coaching rubric from this page (below).

1.5:  Review resources in the Library of Teaching Resources.

Spend some time exploring the resources available here in the Online Teaching Library. Try out the search tool to see how it works. Locate and review these resources:

Once you have located these pages, navigate to the Discussion for this training class. Open Task 1.5 and post a brief paragraph describing how you might make use of one of these resources in teaching your online class.

If you have questions about these materials, please post them, as well.

1.6 (optional):  Mark your calendar with the dates of the upcoming workshops.

Our online workshops are great opportunities to learn more about core skills, ask questions, meet the online training staff, and connect with other new online teachers. You are welcome to attend any or all of these sessions.

Please check the announcements on the Discussion page for this semester's workshop schedule — and mark your calendar! We hope you will join us. You will also find workshop dates here: Teacher Training Workshops

1.7 (optional):  Meet an online student.

Online Video Services made two short videos about an online Animation student named Zaldy Dingle, in which he describes what it's like to take online classes at the Academy. Check it out here: A student perspective on online learning.

1.8:  If you are new to the Academy, talk with your coach about the AAU Mission and student population.

Whether you're teaching undergraduate, graduate or high school students, it's likely that your students at the Academy will bring different perspectives and expectations from students you've taught elsewhere.

In addition, the Academy's professional orientation, which focuses on preparing our students for successful careers, also affects the ways you teach and the feedback you give.

Talk with your Coach about how these factors affect their teaching — and how they might shape yours.

2.1:  Set up your online Profile & Portfolio.

Your online Profile is an important tool for sharing something about yourself and helping you to connect with your students. Sharing some personal information with others in your classes helps to foster a sense of community.

Please create (or update) your Profile by posting a photograph and a brief biography as soon as possible.

Once you have posted a photo, take another look at the posts you made in the Discussion to see how your image has been updated. 

2.2:  Try out your Online Mailbox.

  • Try out your Mailbox by sending a message to someone else in the training class.
  • To learn more about how the Mailbox works, review the Online Mailbox tutorial.

2.3:  Set up your computer properly for working with the AAU online system.

To make sure your computer is set up properly for working in the online learning system:

  1. Click the HELP link on the main menu and open the System Requirements tab.
  2. Confirm that you’re using a supported browser. If necessary, download and install a new browser for working in your online class.

2.4:  Gather any essential books, equipment or materials you need for teaching.

Review the information on your Class Home/Syllabus page to make sure you have everything you need for the semester.

  • If you need copies of the textbooks required for your class, contact your academic department. The Academy does not provide books, but in many cases your department can order complimentary desk copies of required books from the publisher. If that is not an option, your department can request that the books you need be ordered for the Academy library, and you can then borrow them for an extended period.
  • In some cases, it's possible for your department to provide new instructors with the software required for their classes. If you need certain software in order to be able to teach your class, talk with your Academic Director about this issue as soon as possible, as it can take some time to get approval.

2.5:  Review your course content (for the first three modules, at least).

Most new online teachers at the Academy are working with course material that they did not develop themselves. If this is your situation, then you’ll need to allow yourself plenty of time to read through your course content before the semester begins. However well you know your subject matter, the approach taken in your online class will probably be somewhat different from your own, and it's critical that you and your students be on the same page. The time you invest now will spare you effort and headaches in the weeks to come!

Use the link on your Home page to open your class and begin reviewing your course material. You will want to go through your modules and check out the media, making sure you understand what is expected for each of the assignments, and thinking through the discussion questions. We also recommend that you review your tests so that you are familiar with them and can answer students' questions about them.

If you have significant concerns about your course content, please discuss them with your department director. Please keep in mind, though, that no major changes can be made to your class at this point. You must teach the course content provided in the modules — though, as you will learn later in this training, you have various options for adding information to your assignments and discussion topics.

If you find an error in your course material, the Online Help Desk can make the necessary changes for you. Email them at

2.6:  Download key resources: Online Module Calendar  & tips for Teaching Online in the Summer .

We recommend that you download and print the Online Module Calendar for the current semester, which shows the opening and closing dates for each module. If you are teaching in the summer semester, you may find this tip sheet helpful: Teaching Online in the Summer 

3.1:  Practice working in the Discussion.

Most of your work as an online instructor will take place in the Discussion, so it's critical that you become familiar and comfortable working in this interface. In this training class you only have student access to the Discussion, but in your own class you will have instructor privileges with a broader range of tools. You will learn more about these tools later in this course.  

Go to the Discussion for the training class, open the "Task 3.1: Posting Practice" topic, and follow the directions you will find there until you are comfortable using the various tools.

3.2:  Practice working with Global Topics.

Whether or not you need to create assignment and discussion topics for your class, it's crucial to be comfortable creating and editing global topics. So take some time to practice with this tool, and get familiar with the various options available to you. Review Setting Up Your Discussion, if you need a refresher on how topics work.

3.3:  Set the default layouts for your topics to LIST.

Whether you are using course topics or global topics — or a combination of both — setting the default for your topics to the list layout will make things easier when you are ready to grade assignments. Keep in mind that whatever the default layout, all users can set their individual layout for every topic.

  • Review all your topics and edit them, as needed, to make sure they are using the LIST layout. 
  • Start from the Global Topics page to edit global topics. Your edits will apply to all sections of your class.
  • Course topics can be edited from the Pending Topics page. Keep in mind that if you are teaching multiple sections of a class that uses course topics, you will need to edit the topics for each individual section.

Learn more about various issues related to Setting Up Your Topics

4.1:  Practice making announcements.

Open the Discussion for your own online class and practice using the announcement tool until you are comfortable with it.

  • Create new announcements. (Optional: Try including HTML coding in your announcements. See HTML Tips for Announcements.)
  • Edit your announcements.
  • Archive and unarchive announcements.
  • Use the opening date function to put your announcements in the desired order.

(Remember to delete any announcements you don't actually need for your class this semester!)

4.2:  Review & edit administrative topics.

Review all the administrative announcements and topics in your class, so you’re familiar with them.

5.1:  Personalize your Welcome topic with icebreakers and a video introduction.

Please edit the descriptions of your generic “Welcome” topic. (Remember that this section-specific topic  must be edited from the “Current Topics” page.) Here are a couple of suggestions of what you might include:

  • Start by adding an icebreaker and asking students to respond both to the prompt and to one another. The Online Teaching Library offers lots of great ideas for Icebreakers & Refreshers.
  • Posting a video of yourself welcoming your students and giving a brief overview of the class is a great way to give students a sense of you as a person. You might also want to invite students to introduce themselves via video. Learn more:

5.2:  Outline your basic expectations.

It’s always helpful to start with the basics, so you might want to begin by outlining some of your basic expectations for the class.

  • These might include initial requirements like updating their profiles and posting a photo.
  • You might also want to spell out your preferences for how and where students communicate with you. Do you prefer a note in the Instructor’s Office, or do you like to use the mailbox? Let students know.

Depending on the requirements of your class, there may be other issues you want to cover in your course basics. Talk with your coach about what to include; they may even be able to share their requirements with you. You can also review and download a sample version of an instructor's Basic Expectations & Communication.

So think through how things will work in your class, and begin drafting a policy that outlines these issues

5.3: Post your online office hours for this semester. 

  • Navigate to your Profile page to get started.
  • Review instructions and policies here: Online Office Hours

5.4: Get familiar with AAU policies: Online Teaching Standards & Instructor Absence Policy

Begin to familiarize yourself with key AAU policies and expectations by reviewing these documents:

5.5:  Draft and post your policies and expectations.

1. Consider what basic policies (basic expectations, late homework issues, discussion participation requirements, etc.) you want to post in your class and whether they should be presented as announcements or as informational topics (recommended).

2. Remember that you must post your weekly office hours (Wednesdays and Saturdays) as well as times on three additional days when you plan to check into your class to answer questions. This information should be posted on your Profile page and included in your course policies.

3. Download the guidelines, tips, and samples for the policies you plan to include:

4. Draft your own versions of these policies.

5. Post your policies in your class (in announcements and/or informational topics). (Review the cheatsheet on Posting Class Policies.)

6.1:  Greet your students in the Welcome topic.

If you haven't already done so, please introduce yourself via video and invite students to do the same. Learn more:

Once the semester begins, students will begin to introduce themselves here, and it’s important for you to respond quickly to their posts. Greet your students by name, take a look at their profiles and portfolios, ask them some follow-up questions, and get the conversation rolling.  

Be sure to check back into the Welcome topic throughout the week. Since students can participate in an online class anytime during a module, you shouldn’t expect that all your students will get going on the first day. Many will take a day or two—or more—to get rolling. So it’s important that you continue to be active in this opening conversation throughout the first module.

6.2:  Review our Standards for Online Instructors so you know what’s expected of you.

Download our Standards for Online Instructors. Review this document carefully, and save it for future reference.

These are the same standards your teaching coach will be using to assess your work as an online instructor. So make sure you discuss this document with your coach now. Do you need clarification about any of our standards? Does anything here not make sense to you? Your coach can help make sense of this information. 

6.3:  Set up and post your teaching schedule.

Schedule regular times for checking into your class, answering questions, participating in the discussion and critiquing homework.

  • Write all these times into your calendar, so that they are a regular part of your schedule.  
  • Post your work schedule in your Profile, so students know when they can find you, if they have urgent questions.
  • Review the policy on Online Office Hours.

6.4:  Set up an external grading system, if needed, or familiarize yourself with The Gradebook, if your class uses this tool.

The Gradebook

In 2018, the Academy added a gradebook to our learning management system (LMS). The Gradebook is being rolled out in phases, and some new instructors will be using it in their online classes. 

Easy Grade Pro

If your class is not yet Gradebook-ready, you will need to set up an external system for tracking and calculating grades. We recommend using Easy Grade Pro, which the Academy provides for free to all online instructors, but you may use another system if you prefer.

From the Roster page, you can download your roster information. This file is formatted so that it can be easily imported into Easy Grade Pro. To learn how to work with your roster, watch the Student Rosters tutorial.

Whatever system you decide to use, please set it up now so that it's ready to go when you need to input your Module 1 grades.

7.1 Download your student roster.

If you're setting up an external grading system, you will need to enter information on all your students. The easiest way to do this is to download your roster and import that data into your gradebook. Learn more: Student Rosters

7.2: Accommodate your later arrivals.

Later enrollments can present significant challenges for both you and for your late-registering students, who now have a lot of catching up to do. You must allow these students additional time (without penalty) in which to submit their work for the first two modules.

The simplest way to do this is to keep all your topics for Modules 1 and 2 open through the end of Module 3—by editing the closing and/or due dates for your topics. 

Learn more: Welcoming your later arrivals

7.3:  Review Modules 3-7 of the Teaching Online training.

The training class contains a great deal of information, and some of it will only really make sense after you've begun teaching your own class. So once you have settled into the semester, spend some time reviewing Modules 3-7. This refresher will make a big difference in how comfortable and confident you feel teaching online.

Coaching Rubric

Your Teaching Coach will use this document, based on the Online Teaching Standards, in Module 6 to assess your mastery of the basics of online teaching.

Index of Support Materials referenced in the Teaching Online Training

Module 2: Getting Started Online

Module 3: Navigating the Online Discussion

Module 4: Tools for Communication

 Page Title Resources

 Making Announcements

 Your Virtual (Online) Office

Module 7: Keeping Track of Your Class



  • No labels