Sample Structure of a Successful Online Course

Students have expressed the importance of certain things for an online learning environment:

  1. A clear structure for weekly progress
  2. Some standardization of the teaching platform to ensure they do not “miss something”, (Giving students a weekly checklist based on the chart below can be helpful for both you and the students)
  3. Students value BOTH the synchronous (live classes) and asynchronous (videos, readings done in students own time) components and appreciate how the appropriate use respects their time and constraints (especially working students, but also students who are parents, caregivers, etc.)

With this in mind, we’ve created an example weekly structure you can adopt for your online course:

Example: Weekly Course Structure

1. Pre-webinar (preparation)
  • Preliminary Readings
  • Watching a video
  • Engaging in the discussion board
  • [sometimes] submitting a deliverable
2. Webinar/Live Class
  • Synchronous meeting
  • Live Online Lecture
  • Breakout Groups
  • More interactive
3. Post-webinar (learning)
  • Reading
  • Watching a video
  • Engaging in the discussion board
  • [sometimes] submit a deliverable
 4. End-of-week self-assessment
  • Practice Quiz
  • Discussion Board post
  • Low-stake deliverable

More on why we recommend this specific (weekly) course structure:
Online learning can be a different learning environment, especially at a time where students are not able to interact socially with others very easily. We want to be sensitive to the student experience.

  • Students value access to Rotman professors and webinars provide that. Use it for highly interactive components like case discussions or communal problem solving. It can also be useful for teaching some entirely new content that is likely to generate a lot of questions that are of interest to all students, and that is unlikely to be learned by students at very different speeds.
  • If content is not super-interactive, students very much prefer asynchronous videos to manage their learning online. Also, asynchronous videos are less likely to fail in real time.
  • Students value the ability to manage their learning speed and calendar for content-heavy material using asynchronous videos.
  • More information on Asynchronous and Synchronous learning