Faculty Support


Before You Begin Using Moodle

Before teaching an online course, instructors should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Am I comfortable using basic software programs like MS Word and PowerPoint?
  • Am I comfortable using the internet, including uploading/downloading files and using basic email functions?
  • Am I willing to check my CSU email every day?
  • Will I be able to make my online instruction at least as rigorous, challenging, and engaging as my face-to-face courses?
  • Am I willing to think differently and adapt to new modes of instruction, activities, assignments, and assessment?
  • Am I willing to stay current with the latest technologies?

If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, then you should consider teaching online. If you would like to proceed, then your next step will be to complete the Online Certification Training course (see below).

Online Certification Training (OCT)

OCT logo

What is Online Certification Training (OCT)?

OCT is the university's eight-week training program that prepares faculty to teach online. It helps instructors understand what online learning is, how to prepare their course content for an online environment, and what the best practices are for online course development and teaching. It also explores such areas as best practices, instructional design, ADA web accessibility guidelines, and internet copyright and fair use. OCT is meant to provide an introductory overview of these topics, and to prepare faculty to meet the requirements of the Illinois Online Network Quality Online Course Initiative (QOCI) rubric that is used by CSU's Distance Education Committee to review online courses.

OCT was developed to provide a standardized approach to preparing faculty to teach in an online environment as recommended in Appendix G of the CSU Contract. CSU faculty should be prepared to meet the needs of its students; online learning is most effective when delivered by teachers experienced in their subject matter and fluent in necessary technologies. The best way to maintain the connection between online education and the values of traditional education is by ensuring that online learning is facilitated by teachers fully qualified and interested in teaching in the online environment.

In accordance with Appendix G of the CSU Contract (2010-2015), all faculty members who wish to teach online must first complete OCT. Permission to teach online must also be obtained from one's respective dean and department chair.

Faculty who have completed a non-CSU training course can submit documentation that will be verified from the issuing institution to ensure that similar objectives as those for OCT have been met.

When will OCT be offered?

New sections of OCT will begin on the Monday closest to the 1st and 15th of every other month. Starting dates for the 2014-2015 academic year are as follows:

  • August 18, 2014
  • September 29, 2014
  • November 17, 2014
  • January 5, 2015
  • February 17, 2015
  • March 30, 2015
  • May 18, 2015
  • June 29, 2015
  • August 12, 2015

To sign up for OCT, contact our offices at 773-995-2960 or elearning@csu.edu. Also, announcements will be made via CSU email in the weeks leading up to each new section with a link to an online registration form.

What are the learning objectives of OCT?

Unit I: What is Online Teaching?

  • Know and understand the meaning of online learning
  • Know and understand the benefits of teaching online
  • Know and understand the advantages of learning online
  • Know and understand the challenges of teaching online
  • Know and understand Chickering and Gamson's Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

Unit II: Best Practices

  • Provide examples of well-designed course pages, rubrics, lessons, and assignments that exemplify superior design of online courses

Unit III: Copyright, Fair Use, and the TEACH Act

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how copyright, fair use, and the TEACH Act affect course creation in online learning

Unit IV: ADA Web Accessibility

  • Explore and understand the basic principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Unit V: Instructional Design Basics

  • Be able to effectively connect learning objectives, activities, and assessments in an online setting

Unit VI: Building Course Content

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to create a comprehensive online learning experience

Online Teaching Excellence (OTE)

The CTRE offers additional faculty development opportunities for online teaching with the Online Teaching Excellence series.

The first course sequence to be offered in OTE is "Pedagogy and Andragogy."  Having gained a solid grounding in the basics of online learning, this sequence of two mini-courses (five weeks each) helps its participants to more rigorously understand and implement best practices in instructor-guided learning (pedagogy), as well as adult, self-directed learning (andragogy). Unlike OCT, successful completion of this course is not required to teach online at CSU, however, it is strongly recommended for anyone who wishes to enhance his or her online teaching.

NOTE: All are welcome to participate in part I of this sequence.  However, to participate in part II, participants will have needed to complete OCT and have built a complete online course of their own.

Training and Support

Faculty support for online learning is provided by the CTRE, which offers a variety of opportunities, such as:

One-on-One Training

Both faculty and students are welcome to make an appointment with CTRE staff to receive support during regularly scheduled open hours in LIB 318. If you would like to make an appointment, click the button below.


ORG-Instructors Resource Course
This resource course, which can be found in Moodle, is a repository for helpful guides, information, videos, links, and more, which allow you to learn how to use Moodle more effectively.  All CSU instructors are automatically signed up for this course.  Click here to access the Instructors Resource Course.

The CTRE hosts in-person and online training sessions for using Moodle, such as basic navigation skills, setting up a grade book, and using Collaborate. Workshops are held regularly each semester.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of post-secondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by post-secondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts.



Who belongs to SARA?

The members of SARA are states, not institutions or students. Therefore a state “joins” or becomes a “member” of SARA while a college or university “operates under” or “participates in” SARA. States join SARA through their respective regional compact.

NOTE: The District of Columbia and U.S. Territories that are part of a regional compact are also eligible to join SARA.

Does SARA completely replace state authorization?

No. Any degree-granting institution in the U.S. must be authorized to issue degrees by a government. This is typically a state but it can also be Congress or an Indian tribe. SARA pertains to approval of distance education courses and programs offered across state lines by institutions that already have degree authorization in at least one state. What SARA does is centralize the authorization process for each institution in a single state called the institution’s “home state.” Colleges or universities in a SARA state therefore only need their home state authorization to offer distance education to any other SARA member state.

Is every state a member of SARA?

No, membership is voluntary. States may choose to join SARA through the regional compact to which they belong. NC-SARA will maintain a list of SARA member states and institutions operating under SARA.

How does Illinois participate in SARA?

Illinois is a member of the Midwest Higher Education Compact (MHEC), one of four statutorily-created interstate compacts which aims to "provide greater higher education opportunities and services in the Midwestern region."  MHEC also includes the states of Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.  MHEC is working with the other interstate compacts (see map above) to successfully implement SARA across all member states in the country.  In other words, MHEC is the portal through which Illinois' individual institutions are able to participate in SARA.

How can I learn more about SARA and MHEC?

Review the following documents:

Visit the following websites:

Administrative Access to Courses in Moodle

The CTRE, under the direction of the Distance Education Committee (established by faculty contract), adheres to the following:

This section applies to all course content in Moodle whether the delivery method is online, hybrid, or web-enhanced face-to-face.

Appendix G of the University Contract, Article IV, a.(3): Each academic department and/or division in conjunction with the Office of Distance Learning shall:

(a) Develop, monitor and review internet course offerings and make recommendation for change and improvement;

(b) Assist faculty members teaching internet courses to be adequately prepared to teach and prepare required materials;

(c) Provide a methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of the distance learning offerings;

(d) Develop a procedure that ensures adequate advisement for students registering for internet courses;

(e) Make recommendations for change and improvement to internet courses and the supporting infrastructure;

(f) Items (a) through (e) will be published and provided to the Distance Education Committee (DEC) within 6 months after the ratification of this Agreement.

In light of this, the department needs to develop and send to the DEC its policy to adhere to the above conditions.

If a department wants to give an advisor permission to monitor student progress the advisor can do so by viewing:

  • Academic warnings
  • Course grades in Banner and/or CSU Express
  • Meeting students and discussing their work
  • Reviewing the faculty member's curriculum on file in the departmental office

To give anyone, whether chair or other, permission to enter a Moodle course on a continual basis violates the tenet of academic freedom, and instructor and student confidentiality. As the Office of Distance Learning has been subsumed into the CTRE, it is the responsibility of the director of the CTRE to enforce the wishes of the faculty distance education committee as well as protect the interests of faculty, students, and the university.

Based on experience at other institutions, the director of the CTRE follows this procedure requesting access to courses in Moodle:

  • The program director, department head, or dean may view any instructor's or faculty member's e-learning enabled course with prior written notice to the instructor or faculty member and written permission granted by the instructor or faculty member.
  • The review will be time limited (no more than 2 hours at a time) and notice will be given at least three (3) days in advance. All written requests will go through the director of the Center for Teaching and Research Excellence.
  • However, with the written authorization of at least two of the following (program director, department head, dean, or provost) permissions may be granted to access e-learning courses in circumstances where disclosure is essential for legal reasons or to maintain the integrity of the department or university. All written requests of this nature will go through the director of the Center for Teaching and Research Excellence.

Other Access

  • Faculty wishing to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning, professional development or observation of another faculty member's class must have that faculty member's permission.
  • Access to the course should be limited to comply with FERPA regulations and protect student privacy. 

Copies of the CSU Request Form for Administrative Access to the Course Management System are available from the director of the CTRE.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding Moodle or online learning in general, contact the CTRE by email at elearning@csu.edu or by phone at 773-995-2960.