Institute for Online Teaching

group photo of participating instructors and supporting instructional designers
Summer Institute for Online Teaching, 2018 Cohort

Since 2002, the university has run the Institute for Online Teaching to provide preparation and training, as well as a campus-wide faculty learning community, focused on online teaching. In 2020 we had over 600 participants, many of whom provided valuable feedback about how this program might move forward.

Previously, we’ve spent considerable time in the institute focusing on a course outlining method called Backward Design. This is a foundational idea for many educators to ensure their course is doing what they set out to do. It has some unique value in the context of online teaching, but is also valuable for instructors teaching in a face-to-face environment. As such, we are setting out to provide this aspect of our training to an even broader audience through the Introduction to Backward Design course.

With this new offering, we will be making some adjustments to this institute to ensure that we are focusing on aspects of teaching that are unique to the online context. If you are creating a new course or would like to revisit your course structure as you shift toward teaching online, we strongly encourage participation in the Introduction to Backward Design course alongside the institute, but we will be focusing on creating an Institute for Online Teaching that can be a valuable independent resource whether you’ve gone through the backward design process or not.



This year, the four-week Institute for Online Teaching is designed to guide new and novice online instructors to explore the unique opportunities and challenges of the online learning environment. Even instructors with some online teaching experiences are likely to find it valuable.


By the end of the Institute, participants will be able to:

  • Use principles of instructional design to evaluate, design, or redesign online courses.
  • Explore and discuss legal and ethical issues surrounding online courses
  • Establish an effective online instructional persona that is present throughout the course and fosters a sense of collaborative community among learners.
  • Create learner-centered, interactive, online activities that promote student success.
  • Develop strategies for managing time, communication, and instructor/student roles in online courses.

Organization and Topics

This class is organized around four weekly learning modules. Each module features a brief lesson, including reading, discussion, and a small assignment, such as creating a portion of an online syllabus. Modules also include examples from the university's online courses and additional resources for exploration. Module topics include:

  • Basic Building Blocks of Online Teaching & Learning
  • Building Online Learning Communities
  • Making Learning Visible
  • Taking Care of Yourself Through It All


During the four-week session, you will be expected to check in on the course site daily, complete assignments that will help you prepare your online course, and engage in discussion boards with peers. Your commitment is necessary for a productive and successful learning environment and to reap the benefits of the institute. In considering whether or not to pursue a certificate for the Institute for Online Teaching, please note the following expectations for completion:

  • Review course materials for each module
  • Engage in weekly asynchronous discussions
  • Submit small weekly assignments
  • Attend synchronous online class sessions via Zoom

Participants will need daily access to:

Backward Design Workshop

In the week prior to the IOT course, the CTT will be offering a self-paced Backward Design workshop with optional synchronous peer support sessions that may be particularly useful for faculty developing new courses or doing large revisions to existing courses. You will be able to sign up for this workshop on the IOT registration page.

The backward design process helps to ensure that each aspect of your course design aligns with your overall course goals. The term “backward” design stems from the fact that this process tasks you with thinking through your course goals and objectives before you begin designing or building any other components of your course. The workshop will guide participants through the process and give them the opportunity to get feedback from their peers and CTT Instructional Designers.

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Amy Ort