As a student enrolled in an online course, what expectations of online instructors should I be aware of?

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2013-08-23 14:09

Teaching and learning in an online environment is not easy.  Time and effort are required to ensure a successful experience is had by all.  For this reason, we have high expectations of instructors and students who are in the online environment, and we think you should too.


In this post, we provide you with a summary of some of the expectations the Online Learning Center (OLC) has of faculty members teaching online; please also see our complementary post on expectations we have of students learning online.  As a student, should you find that an instructor is not meeting these expectations, please speak up!  The sooner we know there is a potential issue to be addressed, the more that can be done about it.  At the end of this post, we provide several ways you can bring the issue to light.


Expectations of Instructors

  • Logging in every day
    In cases where the instructor cannot login for more than 3 days (such as business travel, an emergency, etc.) instructors should inform students and the OLC to help ensure course continuity.

  • 24 hour maximum response time to questions you ask
    If additional time is needed, instructors should acknowledge question was received and provide an expected response time.

  • Providing a voice in the discussions boards on a regular basis throughout each week
    The discussion board is one portion of the online course where the instructor’s individual knowledge, expertise, and experiences should come into play.

  • Providing prompt, individualized feedback
    Feedback to graded assignments/exams should be provided within 1 week of the submission deadline or sooner. Feedback should also clearly indicate to the student what was right or wrong, working or not working; it should describe why the specific grade was assigned and should clearly demonstrate a thoughtful analysis of the students’ work.

  • Careful review of the end-of-term course evaluations and utilizing feedback to continually improve the course and instruction


Should these expectations not be met, what options do students have?

If at any point during the term there is a concern about course content, you need clarification on course material or assignments, or you are not clear on grades or information provided to you by the instructor, your first course of action is simply to make contact with the instructor and try to resolve the problem.  We recommend utilizing the Conversations tool within WorldClassRoom to reach the instructor.


If that does not solve the issue, you are unable to make contact with your instructor or you do not feel comfortable addressing the topic with your instructor, the Course Observation Form is your next option. This form is an excellent way to shed light on course-related problems  while the term is in progress.  Use this form to let us know what is happening and/or not happening, and we will make contact with the instructor to ensure they are actively engaged in the course.


The Course Observation Form is located within your online course, using the Student Forms button within your course tools menu.  This form is filed electronically.  Should we need to contact your instructor to resolve an issue, the information you provide along with your personal information will be kept anonymous.


If you are unable to file the Course Observation Form, you may also contact the Online Learning Center directly at or (866) 622-0888.


Lastly, please always take time to complete your Course Evaluation, available in the final two weeks of each term.  This is intended to be more reflective of your experience throughout the term with your course and instructor.  It is not intended to be used as a means of communication about immediate problems which can be addressed while the term is still in progress; the Course Observation Form is best used for this.


Please be aware that Course Evaluations are anonymous, and instructors do not have access to view the responses until after their grades are submitted. This “double-layer” of privacy helps to ensure you feel comfortable providing your honest viewpoint concerning your course and instructor.


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