Pointers for teaching an open course

Teaching online courses that are publicly viewable can be a great way to potentially increase enrollment in your course or program, encourage students to perform at a higher level and share your expertise beyond the closed audience. At UAF CTL, we encourage using open practices and education resources when it makes sense. We offer a variety of suggestions for resources and technologies your online course can utilize for this purpose, such as Community@UAF, a locally hosted WordPress installation for course websites you can use in combination with Blackboard (https://community.uaf.edu). If you do host any or all of your course in the public sphere, there are a few considerations to pay attention to.

An illustration of a girl sitting on a flying book

Aliases for FERPA

Don’t forget that if your students are participating in a blog or discussion that is open to public view, you will need to offer them the ability to use an alias instead of their name which needs to be specifically mentioned  in your syllabus and welcome announcement. On Community@UAF students can easily change their publicly viewable nickname to whatever they wish in their Profile from the Dashboard. We include boilerplate language for how to do this in the Course Policies section of the UAF CTL Syllabus Template (https://goo.gl/Xbk7jk).
If you require the use of technology such as YouTube, VoiceThread or FlipGrid, make sure the students know the difference between any ‘unlisted’ and ‘public’ media options and can make a choice whether to publicly display their real name.

Creative Commons Licensing

If you use a public web space to share your course materials, please consider choosing a Creative Commons license for your site. This is a standardized method of declaring how you want others to be able to use or not use your work and whether you want attribution. Usually this information goes in the site footer. All Creative Commons licenses help creators share work within a spectrum of permission levels — from all rights reserved to public domain.
Often work that is shared as an Open Education Resource that you can use in your course has a Public Domain CC0 declaration.
Learn more and choose a license by visiting Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org) and clicking through the options you want to include. A small graphic will be created for you with associated HTML. Copy and paste this information into your footer text widget. Come to Open Lab at UAF CTL if you would like assistance with this or have questions.

Auto Enrollment on Community

We have recently moved toward requiring auto-enrollment on Community@UAF for all courses that require students to participate on the site. This will ensure better consistency for the single sign-on system. If you are using Community@UAF, you will need to submit the Auto Enrollment Request Form (https://goo.gl/wn8Kwn) each semester you will be teaching and also keep an eye on your rosters the first couple weeks to make sure it aligns with Blackboard. Please contact UAF CTL right away if you notice any discrepancies.


Jennifer Moss

Instructional Designer
edX Certified Course Creator
Creative Commons Certified Educator


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