This Summer’s Line-up of Free Online Workshops – Registration Open to the Public

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This summer the Northern Illinois University’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is offering 7 online workshops. These one hour, fully online sessions are now open to the public. We’d like to invite our colleagues in higher education to join our workshops and expand our conversations around these topics. There is no charge for participating in these workshops, but you will need to register.

Summer Workshops – May through August

Advanced Registration is required for all workshops. Click on the workshop title to register, then if you are not affiliated with NIU, click the Non-NIU Registration button.

Quality Online Course Series: Getting Students Started

May 19, 2017
12-1 pm CST

Getting Started . . . at Last? Now that you have designed a high quality online course based on the other standards, you are ready to introduce it to your students. Set the right tone and support student success by helping them get started with a welcome, a course tour, or a navigation guide. In this workshop you will explore best practices for introducing your course structure to your students and building community.

Quality Online Teaching Series: Best Practices for Delivering an Online Course

May 24, 2017
12-1 pm CST

Teaching an online course is not so different from teaching a face-to-face course. You still need to communicate with your students, grade student work, and support their learning. There are some differences, though, and research has shown that following some best practices can increase student success. In this online workshop, find out how to best support your students in the online environment. In this online workshop, you will discover practical strategies you can implement in your own online courses.

Creating Authentic Experiences for Your Online Course

June 14, 2017
12-1 pm CST

When designing an online course, remember everything doesn’t have to happen online or in isolation of the world around us. You can create authentic experiences for your online students, such as field experiences, real-world activities, and genuine, skill building tasks. In this online workshop we will explore ways to craft authentic experiences and assessments for our online students. Plus, we will look at how these experiences align with your course learning objectives.

**NEW** Enhancing Your Online Course with Images and Icons

July 13, 2017
12-1 pm CST

Sometimes a picture says a thousand words. You can enhance your course by adding images, icons, and other media into the online learning environment. Although images are plentiful online you still must consider the copyright of items you choose, even for educational purposes. In this workshop you will learn about helpful repositories that are free for you to use and how to find, evaluate, and incorporate visuals into your online course.

Free Software Tools for the Classroom

July 18, 2017
12-1 pm CST

Many of the software tools that are the most useful in the classroom are unfortunately also some of the most expensive software tools. Often, budgets require that software is limited to a few users or a few locations, which prevents faculty and instructors from utilizing the technology with their students. It even prevents students from learning from these valuable tools. Don’t let licensing fees hold you back! There are free versions of many of the expensive software tools, if you know where to look. This online session will introduce free versions of some of the most common software programs and share ideas for using them in the classroom.

Developing a Course Syllabus

July 26, 2017
12-1 pm CST

The course syllabus is an essential component of your course and should be thorough, precise, and clear. Since the syllabus is often one of the first means of communication between you and your students, it should set the tone for the entire semester. The ultimate goal of a well-designed syllabus, therefore, is to inform students about what is expected of them throughout the semester by outlining content, policies, and due dates. In essence, the syllabus acts as a road map to help students navigate the course. In this workshop, we will discuss key elements of a course syllabus, possibilities for design layout, and provide a checklist to help you create a well-organized and complete course syllabus.

Ensuring Quality in Your Online Course

August 29, 2017
12-1 pm CST

How do you know if your online course is good?  More importantly, how do you make it better? In this workshop, you will learn about why quality is important and how to create more student-centered online courses by using the Quality Matters rubric (a nationally-recognized benchmark for online course design based on research-supported best practices). After the workshop, you will be prepared to develop or improve an online course that is designed to promote student learning.


You can find out about free online faculty development workshops offered online by the Northern Illinois University Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center by subscribing to email notifications or following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Online Workshop on “Quality Online Courses: Getting Students Started”

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Woman with laptop
Source: Pixabay CCO Public Domain

Northern Illinois University’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is opening its virtual doors with an online workshop entitled “Quality Online Course Series: Getting Students Started“, offered on December 14, 2015, from 12 – 1:00 pm CT. This one hour, fully online session is part of a series of workshops focused on quality online course design and best practices in online teaching and learning. The series has been well received by the NIU community, but now we’d like to invite more of our colleagues in higher education.  There is no charge for participating in this workshop, but you will need to register in advance.

As you prepare your online course for next semester, or even next year, you might be wondering how to set the right tone and support student success by helping them to get started with a welcome, a course tour, or a navigation guide. In this workshop, you will explore best practices for introducing your course structure to your students and beginning to build community.

Learn more and register.

New Online Program Development and Support Services Now Available

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It’s now easier than ever before for faculty and staff interested in online teaching to receive support for developing and teaching new online courses online at NIU. The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and eLearning Services have joined forces to provide centralized support for online course design and development as part of the new Office of Online Program Development and Support (OPDS).

OPDS LogoThe Online Program Development and Support (OPDS) Office was formed to strengthen NIU’s position as an institution offering high-quality online programs and courses. This office combines the talents of the professional staff in the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and eLearning Services. The office provides instructional design services, faculty development opportunities and quality assurance guidelines and strategies to create and support programs moving to online or blended delivery. The office also manages the promotion of NIU online offerings through several outlets including, the NIUOnline web portal, the Online and Regional Academics portal, and through customized email and other media campaigns.

The office is building communities of support and inquiry for faculty engaging in online instruction and interested in research in the field. Additionally, OPDS will engage online learners in a supportive community, reflecting best practices identified by research in the field.

For more information about the online program development and support services available, visit or email For the latest news, trends, resources, tips, and best practices for online teaching and learning, follow NIU OPDS on Facebook or Twitter.

Preparing to Teach Online – Self-Paced Online Modules

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Preparing to Teach Online
Self-Paced Online Modules

Online Kick-Off: Monday, June 3, 2-3pm
Online Wrap-up: Thursday, June 27, 2-3pm



Preparing to teach online logo

Are you planning to teach an online course, or just curious about online teaching and learning? Then you can be among the first to explore the new Preparing to Teach Online self-paced learning modules by participating in this pilot offering! As you complete the modules, you will learn about the practices and principles of online teaching and plan for applying them to a course you may want to teach online. The modules cover these foundational online teaching topics:

  • Best practices for online teaching
  • Methods and models for online teaching
  • Technology to communicate, collaborate, and assess
  • Communication strategies
  • Assessment techniques

Preparing to Teaching Online consists of 6 modules and may take 8-10 hours to complete. Because the modules are self-paced, you can complete the modules at any time before the wrap-up date and at your own speed. You have the flexibility to decide if you want to spread the material out over the entire 3.5 week period or complete them all in a week or even a single day! Each module includes a short narrated tutorial, suggested readings, and a quiz. Periodically, you will reflect on what you have learned thus far and how it will influence your course design. Throughout the modules, there are opportunities for you to work on the design for a course you plan to teach online. The modules are based on best practices in online teaching, were developed according to industry-standard quality rubrics, and have been reviewed fully by internal as well as external reviewers.

Module Topics

Module Topics
Overview of Online Teaching
Definition and components of an online course, benefits and misconceptions
Models of Online Course Delivery
Models of online instruction, tools to support each model
Deisgning an Online Course
Incorporating meaningful learning in an online course, best practices for online teaching
Encouraging Communication in Online Courses
Strategies for communication, effectiveness and appropriateness of communication tools
Technology Tools for Online Teaching and Learning
Formative and summative assessment in online learning, technology tools for assessment, effective and efficient grading strategies

While the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center has offered extensive training on online teaching, this is the first time the training is available for self-paced learning online. The modules and this pilot offering for a faculty cohort group are made possible by the partial funding received through NIU Foundation’s Venture Grants. Participants will be requested to provide feedback on the module design, content, and overall experience so that the modules can be enhanced further. Please note that the modules cover issues related to preparing to teaching online and do not include hands-on training that may be necessary to teach online.

Technology Requirements

Participants must have a computer running a browser compatible with Blackboard (more information is available at In addition, participants should have Java and Flash installed. For the kick-off and wrap-up sessions, speakers or a pair of headphones is necessary.

Alternatively, participants may also complete the modules from their iPhone, iPad, or Android phone or tablet. Mobile participants will need to download the free Blackboard Mobile Learn and Blackboard Collaborate Mobile apps.

Participants should have basic computer skills (internet browsing and file management) and prior experience with Blackboard.

Registration Information

This online course is open to all faculty, instructors, and teaching staff (SPS and Civil Service), but the registration will be limited to 25 participants for this piloe offering. Registered participants will receive access to the Preparing to Teach Online Blackboard course. Participants who complete all of the assessments by the wrap-up date will receive a certificate of participation. Advance registration is required.

Attendance at the online Kick-off and wrap-up sessions is strongly encouraged but not required for participation or completion. These sessions will be recorded and available for viewing after the event.

Registration Deadline: May 28, 2013. Due to the advance notice needed for ensuring access to the course and managing the cohort group, please register for this course online at Please register only if you plan to complete all of the self-paced modules by June 27, 2013.

After you register, if you are unable to attend, please cancel your registration by May 30, 2013 at so that those on the waiting list may be given the opportunity to participate in this effort.


If you have any questions or need clarifications about this self-paced learning course, please contact the Center at 815-753-0595 or


Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and NIU Foundation Venture Grants

First Online Teaching Effectiveness Institute a Success

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Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center staff recently developed and offered for the very first time a teaching effectiveness institute for NIU faculty that took place completely online.

Teaching in the Digital ClassroomThe 2012 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, “Teaching in the Digital Classroom: Tools, Tips, and Strategies” was offered Friday, January 11, 2013. 57 faculty from across 26 academic departments participated in the 1-day online institute where they learned how to actively engage students in the learning process through the use of best practices and readily-available technologies. NIU Faculty Development staff led the live online sessions using Blackboard Collaborate and developed an online community in Blackboard where they facilitated conversations, providing an opportunity for faculty participants to network and share ideas before, during, and after the institute.

Faculty were encouraged to participate from the comfort and convenience of their own home, office, or other location. The community in Blackboard Learn was developed following best practices for accessibility and mobile participation via Blackboard Mobile and faculty with iOS mobile devices were encouraged to install the Blackboard Mobile Learn and Blackboard Collaborate apps. Some faculty chose to participate exclusively during the institute from their iPhone or iPad and several commented after the fact at how excited they were to model their own cross-platform strategy for teaching and learning in the future after their experience in the institute.

mobile participation options using Blackboard Mobile Learn and Blackboard Collaborate mobile

Comments from Participants

From feedback received, faculty unanimously found this online institute effective in meeting their desired goals as well as was an effective model for how they in turn can incorporate online technologies in their teaching. Here is just a sampling of a few of the comments faculty shared in the institute evaluation:

The online delivery of this subject matter was critical to my understanding of how it feels to be the learner as well as the design required from a faculty perspective.

It was really convenient to have this (institute) online, and I think it showed what Blackboard Collaborate can do. I learned a lot and have new ideas for the upcoming semester.

This was wonderful! The flow was easy to handle and I stayed engaged throughout the day. I LOVED being able to attend from home.

Fast Facts

From just this first online institute, significant fiscal savings were made possible. A total of 2,598 miles driven, 109 gallons of gasoline (cost savings of $360), and 2,120 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions were potentially saved by faculty participating online from home instead of driving to campus for this 1-day online institute.

97% of the faculty participants indicated that they would attend another online institute in the future. Watch for more online institute opportunities to be offered in the future!

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