Module 1: Creating a Welcoming Environment and Setting up Students for Success

In this Module we’ll review the basic recommendations for online teaching, using our Guiding Principles for Quality Online Teaching and reference the Quality Matters Emergency Remote Teaching checklist to share ideas and practices related to preparing students for success.


Participants will:

  • Familiarize themselves with Guiding Principles, Course Introduction, and Layout sections
  • Consider strategies for their online courses
  • Practice independently by creating visual aids to communicate revised policies, expectations, schedule, or navigation
  • Share and reflect on revised documents, using tips for ‘preparations for success’

Community Building Activity

For this introduction activity, please share one or more images that represent or showcase your resilience. See previous faculty submissions below:

Faculty Voices

Review the Resources

We’ll begin by reviewing two checklists:

  • Guiding Principles for Quality Online Teaching. Take a quick look at the entire checklist, but focus specifically on reviewing the suggestions in section 1 –  ‘Course Introduction’.
  • QM Emergency Remote Instructions Checklist. Take a quick look at the entire checklist but focus mostly on Part 1. Also, keep in mind that this checklist was created for the ‘Emergency Remote’ situation -Spring 2020; and while many of the recommendations here apply for non-emergency online instruction, some suggestions might not be relevant as much.

Consider This


  • What is your initial view on the Guidelines and its usefulness?
  • Upon reviewing the Guidelines, think about which of the tips you have already built into your course, as well as areas that need some attention.
  • Do you have  any questions, comments or observations you may have about the Guidelines overall?

Review the Resources

Let’s examine the QM ERT in more detail:  

Part 1 Preparing for Success

The Goal:

Set students up for success by preparing the environment before students begin work, and orienting them to their new “classroom”. Address the biggest questions students might have, and address immediate concerns about taking part in remote instruction.


  • Providing students with explicit directions about the structure and components of the class
  • Address communication and interaction expectations
  • Clarify communication and availability expectations
  • Provide instructions to students on how they can access their grades
  • Identify relevant course policies
  • Provide easy access to students academic support services
  • Explain accessibility services and responses

Part 2 Guiding Students and their Learning

The Goal:

Build confidence by helping students to establish social presence online, providing guidance and explanation similar to what you’d say in class, and considering best practices for remote teaching with technology.


  • Create a sense of community
  • Explain how the learning materials and activities will help students achieve course learning objectives.
  • Explain how each assignment is related to course learning objectives
  • Provide learners timely feedback so they can track their progress

Part 3 Teaching Effectively in an Online Environment

The Goal:

Develop additional components of the remote course to enhance the learning experience. Design learning units or create online-specific activities, materials or assignments.


  • Create short multimedia pieces or interactive video content and make sure students have easy access to them
  • Organize your course and materials into a learning path (or multiple paths) to help students progressively navigate their learning
  • Plan for active learning opportunities, using interactive tools and technologies
  • Provide appropriate citations and permissions for the materials you are using


  • How do you plan to create a welcoming environment for your students?
  • Thinking of your online class, how are you planning to create an introductory or welcome session for your students?
  • What are your strategies or planned practices where this ‘introduction’ could take place?

Pratt Faculty Voices

   Responses by Pratt faculty who participated in the RTO

   You can view a few highlighted faculty voices below or click here to see more faculty voice.

Create a questionnaire for students to fill out about who they are, why they are taking the class, and their interests in the subject matter. Or ask students to create a short 2 minute video to introduce themselves.

Faculty Member

Ask students to upload images of their favorite works. Then put them into a think/pair/share partner activity to get to know each other.

Faculty Member

The students are coming back to class in a changed world. Students will need to believe deeply within them that what they are doing is IMPORTANT. I plan to have a space online for check ins and reflections from the start and throughout the semester.

Faculty Member


One way to create a simple navigation in online courses is by using simple visuals to illustrate your course schedule, course flow, policies or the grading schema.

Prompt:  Consider creating a short infographic or image to illustrate any one of your policies, your requirements, expectations, or navigation.

See several very simple examples of this in this RTO course, in the Syllabus and other modules further down the road, for example. We created those on Canva and Adobe Spark but we also recommend Pictochart, especially if you are not a designer by trade 🙂

A Couple Resources:

Also –  type ‘visual syllabus’ into Google Image search to see some examples. And note, we are not asking you to create a full visual syllabus (unless you feel that ambitious!).  You can start with just one policy or expectation.

Once you are done, we encourage you to share your visuals with each other.

Pratt Faculty Voices

    Responses by Pratt faculty who participated in the RTO. Click here to view more faculty voices.

Resilience Practice

Coping is described as the process of managing the demands of a stressful event. A person who can cope with a stressful event can master, minimize, or tolerate the stress that is associated with the event.

People differ in the way in which they deal with challenging life events. While some people give up and succumb to their despair, others persist and face life’s biggest challenges with hope and resilience.

Research has identified four main coping styles: overcontrol, under-control (or passive coping), active coping, and surrender. Overcontrol and under-control (passive coping) are maladaptive coping styles, while active coping and surrender are adaptive coping styles.

Consider using this handout for yourself and/or introduce it to your students!

Click here to view the Coping Skills Work Sheet.


Given what you learned about creating a welcoming environment and the tips from the Guidelines, please revise and share one or more of your course policies (attendance policy, grading policy, participation policy, tech policy, missed assignment policy), or create a communication-expectation section for an online class.

Please also add a quick reflection on what you did, how you’ve revised an existing policy, what has changed and how is it more appropriate now for online context?

Pratt Faculty Voices

   Responses by Pratt faculty who participated in the RTO:

Frank Millero School of Design | Industrial Design

Jane HaimesFoundation

Sam Bennett School of Design | Interior Design

Next >> Module 2: Building and Sustaining an Online Community
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