*OSCQR – Standard #1RSI Dashboard illustration

*OSCQR – Standard #1RSI Dashboard illustration

Course includes Welcome and Getting Started content.

Review These Explanations

By welcoming learners to the course and providing context for what they will be learning, the instructor sets a tone for success from the start of the course. The course welcome should establish instructor presence and provide enough guidance to ensure that learners will get off to a good start in the online space. In essence, this is the learners’ first impression of the instructor, and the course.

In addition to knowing how and where to get started, learners need to know how to proceed when they first access an online course. Visual clues and simple notations, like “start here”, and “before you move on” help guide learners through course learning materials and activities.

The course welcome and getting started content should also provide an overview on, or introduce where course materials are located, and how to navigate through the learning management system to access learning content, activities, assignments, assessments, and communication tools.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline course Welcome and Getting Started activities can be designed to support regular and substantive interaction by mentioning how the instructor will be present, engaged, and interact with learners around online course content, activities, and interactions. Setting the expectations that learners have access to the instructor in a variety of ways, that there are planned and predictable communications, and that there will be opportunities for interaction and feedback from the instructor can be mentioned, practiced, and reinforced in the introductory course materials and activities. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics as the course begins, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated introductory discussion demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Support and Promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access.
  • Add a welcome video supplemented with an introductory discussion forum where learners can interact with the instructor to ask questions, or get any clarification they may need about the course, expectations, etc.
  • Course Welcome materials should be welcoming. Course and instructor expectations should be detailed in other areas of the course and syllabus. The course Welcome can direct learners to other areas of detailed course expectations.
  • Provide a detailed instruction sheet, or quick reference guide, on how to get started and what to do first in the course. Post this on the course home page, or send it out to learners via mail, or course announcements.
    • Create a course FAQ that addresses important course navigation or participation issues.
  • Give learners the opportunity to “practice” varied required course activities in the course in a low stakes manner, so that technical and other issues can be addressed before course activity begins, such as participating in a discussion, downloading/uploading files, using the course communication mechanisms to contact the instructor, etc.
    • Create a quiz or scavenger hunt that encourages learners to navigate through the course and respond to your welcome message.
  • Hold an optional synchronous session to welcome learners, answer questions, and demonstrate how and where to get started in the course.
  • Consider options for, and plan regular communications (group and private email, course announcements, etc.) with your students before and after the course begins.
    • Leverage the online course announcement tools in your LMS to automatically send weekly check-in announcements.


Ideas for Video Introductions

    • Create a course introduction video introducing learners to the course topic and learning content. Add your insight and expertise by contextualizing the learning activities alongside course and module learning objectives.
    • Create a course introduction video that highlights your achievements in the field, and relate that knowledge and experience back to what the learners will learn in the course.
    • Create a course introduction tour via video, audio, or illustrated document, that welcomes learners to your online course and explains how and where to get started.
    • Example Ice-breaking discussion in VT

Using Video Well

Be sure to include a script for any videos that you create in compliance with disability and accessibility laws and guidelines.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores the purpose and benefits of creating a course orientation module for your online course, including links to example artifacts and scholarly references:

Course Orientation Module
A Course Orientation Module serves as the orientation to an online course. Creating an Orientation Module is very similar to the events that can occur in first night of a face-to-face class. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

From an instructor’s perspective, there is a great deal of thought that goes into the creation of a new course in Moodle — everything from the template and color scheme to the best way to relay contact information, and whether to use weeks or topics to separate time. One of the most important considerations, however, might also be one of the most overlooked: How do you greet the learners?
This article describes results from a study conducted to examine learners’ perceptions about the use of instructor-made videos that provided explanations of course assignments, syllabus requirements, discussed weekly topics, reviewed for exams, and answered learner questions in video format in both a 100% online course and in several face-to-face courses.
Dulaney, E. & States, T. How To Make the Most of a Video Introduction for an Online Course. Campus Technology, 06/11/14.
Taylor, J. M., Dunn, M., & Winn, S. K. (2015). Innovative Orientation Leads to Improved Success in Online Courses. Online Learning, 19(4), 112-120.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *