ION | Illinois Online Network

Making the Virtual Classroom a Reality

Overview of Online Instruction

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This course is an introduction to online learning and instruction in which key aspects of adaptation to the online environment, course facilitation, and relevant designs are previewed. Participants will actively discuss topics related to online learning and collaborate with peers in projects that analyze and assess online course design elements and technologies.


Faculty and staff who want to acquire pedagogical and technical skills needed to successfully teach courses online.


Participants will explore in depth the following topics:

  • The online student's role and responsibilities in the virtual classroom.
  • The facilitator's role in the virtual classroom, and characteristics of a successful online instructor.
  • Strategies to promote communication and collaboration in the virtual classroom.
  • Curriculum conversion for the online environment.


Module 1 - Online education compared and contrasted to traditional teaching and the student's role in the online classroom.

Module 2 - The instructor's role in the online classroom and course management issues.

Module 3 - Alternatives to the online lecture and collaboration strategies.

Module 4 - Tying it all together.


  • Give prospective online instructors an opportunity to experience the virtual classroom from a student's perspective.
  • Model facilitator skills and technologies that participants will use in their own online courses.
  • Develop a functional understanding of the nature and importance of online learning in the context of contemporary educational offerings.
  • Provide participants with an overview of the key elements of an online course.
  • Discuss the online student's role and responsibilities in the virtual classroom.
  • Discuss the facilitator's role in the virtual classroom and identify characteristics of a successful online instructor.
  • Consider strategies to promote communication and collaboration in the virtual classroom.
  • Share ideas about how curriculum can be converted to adapt to the online environment.


In threaded discussions via an asynchronous online discussion forum, participants will:

  • Identify skills and responsibilities students need to succeed in the virtual classroom.
  • Identify skills and responsibilities facilitators need to succeed in the virtual classroom.
  • Identify the characteristics of curriculum used in the online paradigm as contrasted with curriculum used in the traditional classroom.

In a collaborative team project, participants will:

  • Critique the appropriateness of specific course design elements and technologies with respect to curriculum and course objectives in selected online courses.

In a final course project, participants will:

  • Propose instructional design strategies they will use to promote communication and collaborative learning in their own online courses.
  • Synthesize the topics covered in this course by converting a segment of their onground curriculum for delivery in the online environment.


The course is eight weeks in length and requires an online orientation.


You may take this course without any course prerequisites.


  • Complete the online course orientation prior to the start of the course.
  • Read the instructor's lesson introductions and assigned articles from the Web.
  • Answer weekly discussion questions related to the assigned Web articles.
  • Engage in positive and meaningful dialog with classmates concerning the course subject matter.
  • In each Module, critique a web-based resource about online learning or develop a supplemental question that furthers the class discussion.
  • Write a summary of the key items covered each week and how they apply to your field of teaching.
  • Critique one online course in a collaborative assignment.
  • Complete a final project in which you adapt one segment of your on-ground curriculum to the online environment.


The course has a modular structure in which each unit is individually assessed, but successive units build on previous information. The course pedagogy is based on principles of collaborative and constructivist learning and and makes use of group participation. Content is in the form of active participation in asynchronous discussion and synchronous chat, direct email, postings of materials, Web resources, and instructor notes. Student participation in discussion forums to comment on the ideas and work of others is a major component of the course. Students will acquire more in-depth information on some topics through links to outside sources.


This is an intensive course requiring about 8-10 hours a week. The time commitment will vary depending the individual's input, needs, and personal study habits. Students are required to log on to the course a minimum of 3 times a week.

Credit Options

Continuing Education Credit (CEU Credit)
8 Continuing education units (CEU credit) are available for this course.

Graduate or Undergraduate Academic Credit
This course can also be taken for academic graduate credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield. To earn academic credit, you must first enroll as a non-degree or as a degree student through UIS. Visit the How to Enroll page for more information.


Taking a course for CEUs:
Registration for this course is open to the general public, but there is a registration fee for participants who are not employees of the University of Illinois. The fee is determined by the number of contact hours and online discussion requirements for the course. To view the fee schedule for a specific section of this course, visit the Schedule and click on the link for that section (e.g. SA1051).

Taking a course for Graduate Credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS):
Most MVCR courses [not the Advanced Online Seminars] may be taken for graduate credit through UIS. You do not pay twice if you choose this route. You pay only the tuition and fees associated with UIS enrollment. If you choose to enroll through UIS, you need to follow the instructions. You do not register through this site.

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Taking Courses for Academic Credit

Most 8-week MVCR courses can also be taken for academic credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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Suggested Tracks

Instruction Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Encouraging Comm.
  • Elective
  • Practicum

Technology Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Technology Tools
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Elective (Multimedia or Sims, Labs, Games, and VR)
  • Practicum

Support Professional

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Universal Design
  • Elective (Supporting Students, Copyright, Global eLearning, Blended/Hybrid, Librarians Collaborating, Multimedia Principles)
  • Practicum

COLA - track

  • Administration Seminar
  • Quality Assurance
  • Issues and Strategies in Faculty Training
  • Supporting Students Online

Choose one of the following three for your elective:

  • Administration of Online Programs
  • Copyright
  • Blended - Hybrid Learning Design and Instruction
  • Practicum for Administrators
What They're Saying
"It's good to communicate with faculty in different disciplines and gain their insights."     

MVCR Participant

Award winning courses

The MVCR program won the Award for Excellence in ALN Faculty Develop-ment (in conjunction with other ION programs) from the Sloan-consortium in 2002. One of our instructors won the WebCT Exemplary Online Course Award for an MVCR course as well.

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