Managing Workload in Online Classes

One of the critical components of designing and delivering an effective, engaging online course is to balance the workload for both students and yourself as the instuctor. Strategies for reducing workload and saving time in face-to-face classes do not always work in online classes. Here are some suggestions and templates for building strategies and techniques to manage time and workload in remote courses.

  • Get grounded and realistic during planning, consider: how many students, how long is the course, what do you want the online experience to be for students, what other classes am I teaching, what is need-to-know vs. nice-to-know content?
  • Design SMART learning objectives and then align learning activities to those objectives.
  • Leverage templates for planning documents you use in every class such as a syllabus (CTE syllabus rubric) or course schedule.
  • Consider if you are going to find or create the content and whether those activities will be synchronous or asynchronous. The A&S Learning Design & Technology Team has developed an excellent template for mapping out instructional time with several examples.
  • Develop multiple ways where students can demonstrate learning and provide early and frequent formative assessments. Utilize rubrics for assessments and include students by creating peer-based assessments.
  • Leverage the technology to your advantage: use a template inside the LMS for easy navigation and a consistent set of tools for all of your classes. For example, if you are going to give audio feedback, use the same tool such as VoiceThread for all your classes.  
  • Communicate clearly and often to set expectations. For example, use the Announcements feature in the LMS weekly to summarize key concepts for the week, alert students to upcoming assignments, inform them about past assignments, and answer frequently asked questions.
  • Create a resource list that you can update and reuse in future classes. This resource list can include contact information and how students can get help, information on the library, writing center, and other student services.
  • Create student support resources that are reusable: tech tips, tool tutorials, course orientations, and assignment examples.
  • When creating your own content, create reusable content. This is best done by keeping videos short (no more than 5-8 minutes), succinct, focused on one point, and not referencing things like the weather, dates, holidays, course names, assignment names, or due dates. Plan to create content in chunks that can be used across courses and semesters and can be distributed in a number of ways.
  • Manage your own files by creating an organizational structure for your files with consistent folders (by week, learning objective, type of activity, etc.) and file naming conventions.
  • Track your workload across courses, so you can balance for the duration of the semester.  Consider this graphic from the Online Learning Consortium:
     Course Tracker
  • Keep notes on what worked or didn’t work for future course planning. Review these notes and student evaluations when planning for the next semester.


This information was compiled by Online Learning's Kristin Palmer and can be accessed in the below document.

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