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Using a Video to Welcome Students

Creating a welcome video can be a great way to introduce yourself to students in your online course. You can also have students create their own introduction video. This can be a great way to create a positive learning environment in your course.

General Video Guidelines

1. Keep it short: 5 minutes or less.
2. Write a script so that you stay on track.
3. Adjust your camera to get a good angle. Having the camera higher than your eyes is usually best.
4. Speak slowly and clearly.
5. Ensure Accessibility by adding closed captions to your video.

Video Content Ideas

1) A personal warm welcome from you.
2) A brief overview of the course and your expectations.
3) A reminder about very important course information such as:

a. required synchronous activities
b. exam times
c. project due dates

4) Your availability-office hours and/or virtual office hours.
5) Expected turn-around times for grading, responding to emails, and replying to questions.

Ideas for additional videos

1. Course Navigation Video-screen capture of you showing them the course online
2. Topic Introduction Videos
3. Problem Area Videos: videos in which you explain difficult material


I created the following video as an introduction to my Strategic Training and Development Course.

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How Rubrics Help You and Your Students

What is a rubric?

A rubric is a learning and assessment tool that articulates the expectations for assignments and performance tasks by listing criteria, and for each criteria, describing levels of quality from excellent to poor (Andrade, 2000; Arter & Chappuis, 2007; Stiggins, 2001). The clarity of rubrics is the most important characteristic for its comprehension and application (Al-Rabai, 2014). Rubrics contain four essential features (Stevens & Levi, 2012):

rubric graphic(1) task description or a descriptive title of the task students are expected to produce or perform;

(2) a scale (and scoring) that describes the level of achievement (e.g., exceed expectation, meets expectation, doesn’t meet expectation);

(3) components/dimensions/criteria students are to attend to in completing the assignment/tasks (e.g., types of skills, knowledge, etc.); and

(4) description of the performance quality (performance descriptor) of the components/dimensions at each level of mastery.

Rubric Types

There are two different basic types of rubrics:
Type 1:  Analytic Rubrics resemble a grid with criteria in the leftmost column and levels of achievement across the top row of the grid.  These types of rubrics identify and assess “components” of a finished product.
Type 2:  Holistic Rubrics are more general and consist of a single scale that contains all criteria to be included in the evaluation.  These types of rubrics assess the finished product as a “whole”.
The Basics of Rubrics  from Penn State University Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence does a nice job of clarifying rubric types.
How do rubrics benefit students?
  • Clarify Expectations: Rubrics demystify grading by clearly stating a coherent set of criteria for performance (from excellent to poor) as well as detailed descriptions of each level of performance.
  • Improve Learning: Students report rubrics help them with learning and achievement.  Students can use rubrics to focus their efforts and self-assess their own work prior to submission.
  • Encourage Feedback and Reflection: Rubrics provide students with specific feedback and allow students to reflect on their performance in order to improve.
How do rubrics benefit faculty?
  • Save Time: Rubrics help faculty save time grading since uncertainty is reduced and the detailed descriptions for levels of achievement free the instructor from writing out long comments.
  • Provide Consistency Among Multiple Graders:   Large courses may use multiple graders (Co-instructors, Teaching Assistants, etc.).  Creating and using a common rubric may help to ensure more consistency among graders.
  • Reduce Bias: Rubrics help make grading more transparent and fair.
  • Justify Grading:  Rubrics document why faculty awarded certain grades.  Grading history is maintained.
  • Weigh Importance:  Since some assignment criteria is more important than others, rubrics allow instructors to “weigh” the criteria in order of the importance of the objectives of the assignment.

Example Rubrics from the University of Connecticut:

Find more sample rubrics here

More Info

For more information visit:


Berkeley University of California, Center for Teaching and Learning (Rubrics website).  Retrieved June 23, 2015.

Andrade, H. G. 2000. Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership 57 (5): 13-18

Arter, J., and J. Chappuis. 2007. Creating and recognizing quality rubrics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

Al-Rabai, A., 2014. Rubrics revisited. International Journal of Education and Research Vol. 2 No. 5 May 2014. Source URL: www.ijern.com

Stevens, D., & Levi, A. 2012. Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Virginia: Stylus Publishing.


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Meeting the Quality Matters Standards

What is Quality Matters (QM)?

what is quality mattersQuality Matters (QM) is a continuous improvement model for assuring quality of online and hybrid/blended courses through a peer review process.

To meet Quality Matters expectations, a course must meet all the Essential Standards AND achieve a total overall score of 85 out of 100 points. 

I recently designed a brand-new course that I will be teaching in the Spring semester. The following details how I met the QM standards in this course.

As I worked through the course design process, I utilized Samford’s credit hour calculator. Based on the time recommendations and the final calculations, the course fulfills the 112.5 total hours specified for a 3-credit-hour course.

According to the Quality Matters (QM) rubric, standard 1 was satisfied via the syllabus as well as the Canvas home page and my introduction video. The requirements for QM standard 2 were accomplished by including the course level objectives in the syllabus and on the course home page. Additionally, I reference how each module level objective aligns with the course objectives within each Module overview and objectives page. Module objectives are stated within each module along with the student activities for the week.

I designed a variety of assessments throughout the course to meet QM standard 3. Learners will engage in discussion posts, case studies, individual projects, group projects, peer reviews, and short formative quizzes. Each assignment contains a rubric that details the success criteria.

QM standard 4 relates to instructional 

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materials and instruction. The textbook for the course is the latest edition of Raymond Noe’s Employee Training and Development. Other materials include articles from leading industry publishers, instructional videos, Ted Talks, animated explainer videos, slide decks, and a podcast interview. Video lectures and four synchronous class sessions will supplement the instructional materials. The variety, format, and delivery were selected based on adult learning theory, and best practices in online education.

To meet QM standard 5, I designed numerous ways for learner-learner and instructor-learner interaction. The course uses standard discussion posts, giving presentations, and lecture videos. Additionally, the learners will work together on a group project. Collaboration and interaction will be accomplished using the team app, Slack.

Given the topic and goals of the course, I selected 21st century technology and current technologies used in training and development to satisfy QM standard 6.

For QM standard 7, the syllabus and Start Here module in Canvas contain the required student support service information and links.

Finally, the course meets all accessibility requirements. All images contain ALT text, videos are closed captions, and all pages were checked by the Canvas accessibility checker.

Watch the video below for tips on how to conduct a QM Self-Review

Video Source: Quality Matters Professional Development

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Involving Learners in Assessments

In Assessing the Online Learner (Palloff & Pratt, 2012), , the authors present effective assessment as not only an element of good course design, but a key component in student engagement. During our time in the IDTE program, we have discussed student engagement in relation to instruction, multimedia and technology, and other areas, but linking engagement with assessment is not only a new ‘wrinkle’ in the engagement conversation but an intriguing idea as well.

Palloff and Pratt do an excellent job of introducing key concepts related to instruction, alignment, and assessment that are helpful in understanding the interrelated nature of each element in designing a quality learning experience. However, I appreciate how the authors include practical information that aid the reader in visualizing how the content works in real life.

According to the text, instructors can engage learners in the assessment process by incorporating the following practices:

1. Aligning competencies, outcomes, objectives, activities and assessments
2. Ensuring Student Involvement and the element of choice

a. McVay Lynch (2002) note that involving students in the assessment process can result in the student learning to use resources outside of the teacher for ongoing assessment after the course, the evaluation reflects a real-world environment instead of that in the classroom, and the use of higher-order thinking skills of application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation in writing a reflection of the event. (p. 125)

b. Stein and Wanstreet (2003) indicate that providing choices in assessments is critical to learning success with adult learners. Pg. 26

3. include clear directions and rubrics for all assessments. Providing clear directions and rubrics that indicate the requirements and success measures can mitigate confusion and frustration for the student.

“Having clear expectations and grading criteria creates consistency in grading and helps to engage learners in their own learning process, as they know what they are aiming for and can assess their own progress along the way” (Palloff & Pratt, Pg. 24).

4. Utilize formative assessments throughout the course that:

a. Encourage students’ self-reflection by evaluating their own or a peer’s work, and to share what kinds of feedback they find most valuable.
b. Give students detailed, actionable feedback tied to predefined criteria, with opportunities to revise or apply feedback before final submission. Feedback may be corrective and forward-looking, rather than just evaluative.
c. Promote positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem – Students will be more likely to find motivation and engage when they are assured that an instructor cares for their development. This can be accomplished by allowing rewrites/resubmissions following personal feedback from the instructor.
d. Provide opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance – Instructors can improve student engagement by helping the student identify gaps between current and desired performance.

5. Utilize well-designed summative assessments.

a. Because summative assessments are typically represent higher-stakes tasks connected to a grade, it is especially important to ensure that the assessment aligns with the goals and expected outcomes of instruction.

i. Use a Rubric that provides clear expectations for the assessment.
ii. Design effective questions that allow students the opportunity to present their knowledge creatively and in ways that show how they mastered the content.


McVay Lynch, M. (2002). The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom. London: Routledge Falmer.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2012). Assessing the Online Learner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stein, D., & Wanstreet, C. E. (2003). Role of Social Presence, Choice of Online or Face-to- Face Group Format, and Satisfaction with Perceived Knowledge Gained in a Distance Learning Environment. 2003 Midwest Research to Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, and Community Education. 

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In 2013, I took a position as training director of a crisis hotline. The majority of call agents worked remotely from locations all around the world. Even though I was an experienced director, I had not worked with remote teams before this position.

Since Google offered a free subscription to nonprofits, we decided to use Google Hangouts for training. Each trainer learned how to use Hangouts and we held a special “train the trainers” phase before the official launch of the program.

After Action Review

What was expected to happen

Our main goal was to get our training online, using Google Hangouts so we can share documents, presentations, and see each other’s screens. The expectation was that we might have some problems, but we would get the training program online and continue learning how to conduct meetings on this technology.

What actually happened or occurred?

1. The team dynamics were very good. Everyone worked hard to learn Google Hangouts and how to lead a virtual training session.

2. From a technology perspective, we did not have a smooth start. One trainer in South Africa had tech problems he didn’t know how to resolve, and our tech support staff member was unavailable. Later we decided as a group that since it’s so difficult to schedule people for a training session, in the future if one person is having technology problems, we will continue working, but make sure to give detailed meeting notes to that person. We also decided to record all training sessions as well.

What went well?

1. Google Hangouts for Business was a good choice for virtual training. The additional tools within the program (whiteboard, screen share, present screen) worked well with the content of the training.

2. Using ice-breaker exercises helped trainees get comfortable with each other and helped the team dynamics. They also helped the trainees become acclimated to training in a virtual space.

What can be done to make the process better?

1. To accommodate members who are unable to join our meeting, we should take minutes and record each training session. The notes and recordings should be posted on the employee section of the website.

2. We did not have a clear protocol on what we should do in case someone is unable to join a meeting. A protocol should be established and added to the employee training handbook and sent out with the training invites.

3. Some trainers are not comfortable or experienced with Hangouts. Google provides video-based training that can be used for any trainer who is struggling with the program.


Even though the virtual training program was successful, the process could have benefited from an AAR during the train the trainer phase. Many issues that we encountered in this phase continued to plague the training program for the first year. My team did learn and grow through the process, but using a reflect-plan-act system would have led to better equipped trainers, improved learning outcomes for the trainees, and a much stronger training program overall.

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