The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) defines online courses as those in which all or the majority (75% or more) of the instruction and interaction occurs via electronic communication or equivalent mechanisms, with the faculty and students physically separated from each other. UIS defines online learning as sections delivered online and asynchronously. The Department of Education describes regular and substantive interaction between instructor and students as an essential element of an online course. Failure to comply with the Department of Education’s regular and substantive interaction regulation can have a negative impact on student financial assistance.
The four main criteria of “regular and substantive
Interaction must be initiated by the
instructor. This arose from the original intent to differentiate
distance and correspondence education. It also clashed with excellent teaching
models that made extensive use of other forms of interaction.
Interaction must be “regular” and probably
somewhat frequent. Interaction should be predictable (e.g., on
Monday and Wednesday, once a week) or scheduled (e.g., specific dates in the
Interaction must be “substantive” – of an
academic nature. “Substantive” activities tend to be those that further
learning or assess that learning. Interactions of an organizational, procedural,
or informal nature do not count.
Interaction must be with an instructor that meets accrediting agency standards. Interaction is provided by institutional staff who meet accrediting agency standards for providing instruction in the subject matter being discussed.
An easy way to communicate with students about their performance in your class is by sending messages to a subset of students using the Gradebook. You can use the Gradebook to send messages to select students based on their status or performance on a specific assignment:
Haven’t submitted yet—email students who haven’t submitted the assignment, even if they have been manually awarded a grade.
Haven’t been graded—email students whose assignments have not yet been graded (submitted or unsubmitted).
Scored less than [point value]—email students who earned a grade on their assignment less than X number of points.
Scored more than [point value]—email students who earned a grade on their assignment more than X number of points.
Although one message can be sent to multiple students at the same time, each student will receive an individual message. You can also message students individually in the Gradebook by using the student context card.
In Course Navigation, click the Grades link.
Open Assignments Menu
Hover over the assignment column header and click the Options icon.
Click the Message Students Who link.
Select Message Category
By default, Canvas will show names from the Haven’t submitted yet category.
In the drop-down menu:
Select the category of students you want to message. Based on real-time
data, Canvas will show the names of the students who fall in the
category you selected
 You can also remove students from the message by clicking the Remove icon. Canvas will also generate a subject line based on the category
 You can edit the subject line if needed.
 Type a message to the students in the message field.
 Click the Send Message button.
Note: Although one message most likely will be sent
to multiple students at the same time, each student will receive an
With all the uncertainty that we all have for this Fall, our students definitely feel these stresses. One way that we can reduce this uncertainty is by contacting our students early to let them know what we are planning for our Fall classes. This includes whether or not there will be face-to-face sessions planned and/or synchronous online sessions via Zoom and dates/times if you have them already.
Even though our Canvas courses aren’t populated yet, you can get a list of student emails from Enterprise following the instructions below and contact them before they are added to your Canvas course. Students will be populated into Canvas on August 17. After this you can message them directly through Canvas. (More on this topic can be found in the COLRS Teaching Blog)
Instructions to access students enrolled in courses using Self-service (Enterprise):
A Journal of Educators Online study of online graduate students looking at what should be included in effective feedback and how should effective feedback be provided to students found five themes of effective instructor feedback:
Themes of Effective Instructor Feedback
Student Involvement and Individuation
Effective feedback is a mutual process involving both student and instructor.
Feedback should include personalized messages & examples that reflect the student’s contributions
Feedback should be private
Being Positively Constructive
Effective feedback provides constructive guidance that builds confidence.
Feedback should be positive, encouraging & friendly
Feedback should provide suggestions for improvement
Effective feedback guides through explicit expectations and ongoing coaching.
Feedback should create structure & guidance
Feedback should provide clear ground rules & state expectations
Timelines for effective feedback are mutually established and met.
Feedback should be prompt
Instructor should set expectations on time frame for feedback & announce if time frame will not be met
Effective feedback is applicable to future situations.
Feedback should guide students on how to improve for future class activities