Logistics of Teaching

Building a framework to support your pedagogy

What are the logistics of teaching?

While tackling the content & concept side of your course may be the fun part, it’s just as important to have a good handle on the logistics of managing a classroom. Without that strong framework to build on and refer to, the content & concept will suffer. See also our Faculty Resource Guide that offers good information about how to run your course.

How can I use logistics  in my Course?

You will make your job during the semester easier if you build out some management practices. Set policies that will make communicating easy for you and your students, and know where to get help and answers to course-management questions.

Response Time

Set response time expectations for your students. You probably aren’t going to be available 24-7 so let students know up front what the expectations should be and how long it might take you to respond to their questions or how long it might take you to return graded work. Regardless of the means of communication that you promote or require your students to utilize, it is critical that you manage expectations of–and provide consistency in–your response times. Each student should know how long they can expect to wait if they send you an email or when they will be able to interact with you during your next session of office hours.

Consistent, Reliable Communication

Communicate quickly and often! Be responsive to and pro-active with students!

  • Regular Announcements throughout the semester. ex: Pre-set announcements with important information you know you want to remind students about (i.e. due dates, drop/withdrawal dates, etc.)
  • Create a “first-contact” assignment to make sure students can login and navigate through Canvas or find your course website.
  • Set progress expectations with due dates. Use a course calendar or schedule.
  • Use weekly exercises that evoke reflection either on the learning material itself or on the learning experience.
  • Set mechanism for office hours and be very clear about response turn around time.
  • Establish email subject-line formulas for how students should signify why they are getting in touch with you.
  • Wherever appropriate, focus the means by which students may submit work to you (either to a central site, to Canvas, through Google Drive, etc.)
  • Google+ Hangout (part of UA google app) Video or chat with students. Share white board, google apps + more

Student Collaboration

Provide a framework for student study groups or at least provide a space for students to talk if they want to, on general course topics. Let students know if you will or will not be monitoring the discussion.

  • Bb email – let students know they can email their classmates within Bb
  • Bb open discussion forum – create a “coffee corner” or similar
  • Create a category or tag on your WordPress site for students concerns.

Know Where Students Can Get Help

UAF CTL Student Services helps students with registration and course schedules, provides information about lessons and student records, assists with the examination process, and answers general questions. Our Academic Advisor can help students communicate with instructors, locate helpful resources, and maximize their distance learning experience.   Contact the Student Services staff at 907- 479-3444 or toll-free 1-800-277-8060 or contact staff directly. Refer students to the resources at ecampus.uaf.edu/current-students.

Check out this Teaching Tip on other support services available to online students at UAF.


While our courses can never be perfect, practice will certainly make them better every time. There are so many ways for us to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of our courses, including

Student reflection and evaluation. Though after a while you’ve learned to read student evaluations with a grain of salt, there is sometimes no denying that some aspect of the course needs attention. If enough students have sensible concerns about the course, it’s worth your time and effort to attend to those concerns.

Frequent reflection is important for students  and is useful for you. Keep your own record of how assignments worked out, how effective you think your discussions were, and how appropriate the content of the course was to your learning objectives.

Preparing for a new semester

You’ve made it through your first semester of your newly-designed course. Beyond any revisions you’d like to make, there is some basic housekeeping that needs to be done before you start all over again next semester.

For online content, be sure you’ve updated your Grade Center and Assignment due dates. You will also need to clear out the Announcement area, and prepare a new  Welcome Announcement and Instructor’s Course Perspective statement.

Be sure your student resource contact information is current.

Keep yourself engaged. Teaching the same course semester after semester is challenging, and it’s important for you to find ways to keep it interesting not just for your students, but for you, too.

In Practice

In her online ABUS class, Alex Fanelli frames the various discussion forums to help guide student responses.

Watch:  Classroom Management Strategies

A brief dive into strategies for planning and managing hybrid and online courses

Research Foundations

Simpson, O. (2004). The impact on retention of interventions to support distance learning students. Open Learning, 19(1), 79-95.

Nichols, M. (2010). Student perceptions of support services and the influence of targeted interventions on retention in distance education. Distance Education, 31(1), 93-113. doi:10.1080/01587911003725048

Seok, S., DaCosta, B., Kinsell, C., & Tung, C. K. (2010). Comparison of Instructor’s and Student’s Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Online Courses. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 11(1), 25-36.

Shackelford, J., & Maxwell, M. (2012). Sense of Community in Graduate Online Education: Contribution of Learner to Learner Interaction. International Review Of Research In Open & Distance Learning, 13(4), 228-249.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2002). Lessons from the Cyberspace Classroom.  John Wily & Sons.