Before teaching an online course, instructors should ask themselves the following
- 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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
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.
Faculty support for online learning is provided by the CTRE, which offers a variety
of opportunities, such as:
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:
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
(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
- 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
- Access to the course should be limited to comply with FERPA regulations and protect
Copies of the CSU Request Form for Administrative Access to the Course Management
System are available from the director of the CTRE.
If you have any questions regarding Moodle or online learning in general, contact
the CTRE by email at email@example.com or by phone at 773-995-2960.