Guidance for Online Learning

NEIU prides itself on providing students with high-quality teaching and is committed to creating a welcoming environment that provides appropriate support to our students.

The online learning environment presents a unique set of challenges for students. Yet instructors can ameliorate the uncertainty students feel by implementing best practices and clarifying expectations needed to support student success. This guidance document identifies the minimum level of interaction and management needed between students and instructors to maintain a quality online learning environment.

As a course instructor, it is anticipated that you will…

  1. Follow the established course start and end dates.

When students register for classes, they expect to start and end their courses as delineated in the NEIU Class Schedule. Be sure that you know what is listed on the schedule. If you have questions, check with your Department Chair.

  1. Use your NEIU email and require students to use their NEIU email for communications

It is imperative for the protection of student privacy that instructor and students use only their NEIU email for email communications. The instructor's NEIU email should be posted on the course syllabus. Students should expect to reach out to instructors using that email account.

3. Follow consistent guidelines for managing your online course.

These guidelines identify tasks that should be performed on a daily, weekly, or semester basis. The key to effectively managing your online course is to be consistently “present” in your course. Regular contact with your students helps assure them that you are a caring instructor with whom they can be successful. Regular communications with your students, review of their discussions with one another in discussion forums, responding to questions and issues that your students raise, posting announcements and updates, and even including a short video of you all help personalize the online environment. If you don’t know how to create a video, here are two tutorials: Tutorial 1 and Tutorial 2.

4. Monitor assignment submissions and communicate with students to remind them of missed and/or upcoming deadlines.

Be proactive. Our students have busy lives and, like you, are juggling the responsibilities of work and family while they complete their education program. Consider posting a message or announcement to your class at least once a week to tell them what you will be covering in the coming week and to remind them of any due dates helps your students be successful. Warmth goes a long way, so do your best to focus on the positives and offer an approachable and supportive presence.

5. Early in the course, establish a regular schedule for when you will be logging into the course and communicate this to students.

Be proactive. Our students have busy lives and, like you, are juggling responsibilities of work and family while they complete their education program. Posting a message or announcement to your class at least once a week, to tell them what you will be covering in the coming week and to remind them of any due dates helps your students be successful. Warmth goes a long way, so do your best to focus on the positives and offer an approachable and supportive presence.

6. Provide feedback to student inquiries within 48 hours.

Timely feedback is important to students. Without it, they may not be able to make progress on their coursework. If you cannot provide feedback within 48 hours, let them know when they can expect to receive a detailed response from you. Include this information in your syllabus as well.

7. Provide timely and meaningful feedback on student work using clear and concise language.

Feedback is essential to correct students’ misconceptions and improve future performance. It must be value-neutral, tied to the learning goal, descriptive, and timely.

8. Communicate to your students in advance about when you will grade assignments and exams.

Students need this information so that they can determine how successful they are in your course. It is reasonable for your students to expect to receive their grades within one week of submitting their assignment. Even so, the instructor should make explicit to students when their work will be graded.

Make notes about what you want to change about your course to address equity and inclusion. Don’t know where to begin? Check out these suggestions.

9. Provide an open and respectful teaching and learning environment.

Keep in mind that NEIU’s Value of Diversity, allows for “the open and respectful expression of ideas and differences in thoughts, experiences, and opinions.” Students must be free to express their opinions without fear of ridicule, intimidation, or retaliation by the instructor. Consistent with NEIU’s Policy on Academic Freedom, “evaluation of students and the award of credit must be based on academic performance professionally judged and not on matters irrelevant to that performance, whether personality, race, religion, degree of political activism, or personal beliefs.”

10. Use the approved learning management system (LMS) for your course activities or integrate the system you are using into the LMS.

We currently use Desire2Learn (D2L) as our LMS. Students expect to access the D2L for information, assignments, the syllabus, grading, etc. Using D2L provides predictability to students across their various courses. If you do not know how to use the features of the D2L, contact your Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) professionals immediately. The CTL offers online training for faculty and makes available D2L tutorials on the various features.

11. In accordance with University policy, be sure to post final course grades by the deadline established in the NEIU Academic Calendar.


12. Encourage your students to complete your end-of-course evaluation.

Assure your students that you will not see this evaluation until after grades are submitted and posted. After that point you will use their feedback to make course improvements. This evaluation will be posted on the homepage of D2L. Faculty must download the course evaluation results after the end of every semester for their own records. The steps to this process and other information faculty can be found here. As of Fall 2021, course evaluations will be managed at the college-level and not by CTL.

13. Embrace a continuous improvement process.

Use student feedback to make changes to your course. While it is fresh in your mind, now is the ideal time to consider what worked well and where there is room for improvement in course content, activities, and assessments. We recommend using a Google document on your Nmail Drive for this purpose

14. Reflect on your equity-minded and inclusive practices.

Make notes about what you want to change about your course to address equity and inclusion. Don’t know where to begin? Check out these suggestions.

15. Reach out to our librarians.

If you need help with bringing in readings, videos, audio, or images to better represent your students and discipline, don’t forget about the NEIU Librarians. You will also find a wealth of resources on our Library’s website. See the Faculty Guide to the Library.

16. Adhere to recording of class sessions policy.

Assuring privacy among faculty and students engaged in online and face-to-face instructional activities helps promote open and robust conversations and mitigates concerns that comments made within the context of the class will be shared beyond the classroom. As such, recordings of instructional activities occurring in online or face-to-face classes may be used solely for internal class purposes by the faculty member and students registered for the course, and only during the period in which the course is offered. Students will be informed of such recordings by a statement in the syllabus for the course in which they will be recorded. Instructors who wish to make subsequent use of recordings that include student activity may do so only if all student activity is removed from the recording. Recordings including student activity that have been initiated by the instructor may be retained by the instructor only for individual use.

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