How do I address common concerns with instructor time management in online courses?

Picture of a woman using a phone in front of a laptop and a clock

Common Concern #1: Designing an online course will be very time consuming.

Start course development well in advance of the start date

  • Research shows it takes 6-9 months to develop an online course from an existing classroom based offering
  • Designing and building a new online course can take >1 year when working independently.

Take advantage of on-campus support

Common Concern #2: Managing an online course will require too much time and effort.

  • Thoughtfully plan your syllabus and create a manageable schedule. Clearly outline course policies, modules, assignments, rubrics, discussions, technical requirements and support.
  • Schedule ample time in your weekly calendar to to prepare for your online course.
  • More than 50% of instructors report spending >4  hours/week preparing for their online courses.

Common Concern #3: How can I appropriately manage time and keep records?

  • Schedule a set amount of time in your week for management of course materials, discussion forums, student e-mails.
  • Establish a response policy for e-mail communication (i.e. 24 hours on weekdays, 48 hours on weekends).
  • Set up online synchronous “class time” using Collaborate UE to facilitate instruction and keep it moving.
  • Clearly relay expectations via multiple modalities (clear syllabus, online modules, direct instructor facilitation).
  • Use LMS tracking tools to monitor student engagement with course materials, follow up with students as needed


Western eLearning Support – questions/consultations? Contact us via email.
Western's eLearning Toolkit


Boettcher JV (2011). Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online: Quick Guide for New Online faculty. Designing for Learning 2006-2013.

Lin H, Dyer K, Guo Y (2012). Exploring Online Teaching: A Three-Year Composite Journal of Concerns and Strategies from Online Instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 15(3).

Lloyd SA, Byrne MM, McCoy TS (2012). Faculty Perceived Barriers of Online Education. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(1).

McKenzie BK, Mims N, Bennet EK, Waugh M (2000). Needs, concerns and practices of online instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 3(3).

Photo by Charlz Gutiérrez De Piñeres on Unsplash

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