Skip to Content

Advanced Course Set Up

Please follow the steps below carefully to ensure a successful semester for you and your students.

Also note the information at the end of the page regarding:

Review Your Course

  1. Review all of the sections of Course Info on the left side of the course site. In particular, note the technology requirements for and technical support resources available to you and your students. (Note: You will not be able to edit the content in Course Information, since any edits impact all ITS online courses.)
  2. If you have not done so already, review the contents of the course site, including Syllabus, Resources, Learning Modules, Assignments, Assessments, etc. As you review the materials, click all of the links and correct any broken links. If you need assistance, contact your instructional design coach.
  3. Schedule training as needed at
    • Sign up for TRACS training if you are unfamiliar with any of the tools on the left side of the course site.
    • Schedule Connect training by contacting if you are new to Connect and will use it for the course. (You will not be given a Connect account until you have completed the training.)
    • Sign up for online teaching workshops such as Survival Skills for Online Teaching, Online Course Management and Communication, and/or other related workshops.

Return to Top

Prepare Your Course Site

Learn more about Assessment settings at TRACS Facts Create Assessment. Also view Suggested Assessments Settings for more details.

  1. Check Assignment points and set dates and times (if the course uses Assignments) to match those you added to the syllabus. Then publish each assignment by clicking Edit below the assignment, scrolling down, and clicking Post. Finally, click Reorder at the top of the page, reorder the assignments according to their due dates, and click Save.
  2. Add any missing items to your Gradebook:
    • You must manually add graded discussion items to the Gradebook, and then you must select the Gradebook item you created in Topic Settings in Forums.
    • Assignments and assessments copied over from the archive version of your course will appear in the Gradebook automatically. (Any new assignments or assessments you may add will appear in the Gradebook if you select the appropriate settings and then publish the assignment or assessment.)
  3. Publish forums in the Forums tool. If Draft is noted to the left of the forum title, click Forum Settings to the right of each forum title and scroll down and click Save Settings.
  4. If the course has quizzes in Assessments, make sure the points for the assessment items are correct. Then publish the assessments (next step).
  5. Publish the assessments, at minimum the student perceptions survey (described here), as follows:
    • Click Settings below the assessment.
    • Click the triangle by Delivery Dates.
    • Enter the available date/time.
    • Enter the due and retract dates as the same date/time.
    • Make sure the assessment is set to show up in the Gradebook (under Grading).
    • Scroll down and click Save Settings and Publish.
  6. If you are not the instructor who developed the course, replace the instructor introduction (usually a video in the first Learning Module) with a video of your own or a picture and introduction to yourself.
  7. Add your photo and/or a welcome message to the Home page to personalize the course. To add a photo and text to the Home page:
    • Click Home in the left panel of the course site.
    • Click Options below Site Information Display.
    • Click in the text input area where you want your picture to appear.
    • Click the yellow icon that depicts a landscape. Then click Browse Server in the dialog box that appears.
    • Click Browse, navigate to and select your image, click Upload, and then click the name of your image file.
    • Enter pixel dimensions to adjust the size of your image. Also select from the Align menu as desired. Then click OK.
    • Add a message below or to the side of your picture. Your message should be appropriate for students who view it any time during the semester. Consider reinforcing an overall goal of the course and expressing your willingness to help students anytime they need it.
  8. Put articles or other readings on e-reserve if noted in the syllabus.

Return to Top

Teach Your Course

  1. Publish the site so students can see it (Site info: Manage Access: Publish).
  2. Post a warm and positive welcome announcement in TRACS by the first day of the semester.
  3. Assign or ask students to choose team member(s) if they will work in teams or discussion groups.
  4. If you will use Connect, send out Connect room links to your students and/or post them to Resources.
  5. Follow best practices for teaching distance courses, including but definitely not limited to the following. Contact an instructional designer if you need additional support or training:
  • Monitor the forums on a daily basis.
  • Respond to student emails in a timely manner.

Return to Top

More Reminders

Adobe Connect

Connect is a synchronous communication tool that allows instructors and students to meet virtually in real time. Holding online meetings with your students in Connect can greatly enhance distance learning at strategic points during a course, for example weekly online office hours, prior to challenging assignments, after key assessments, or anytime students will benefit from question-and-answer sessions. Connect can also be used by students for presentations and team meetings. For more information about Connect, refer to

If you want to use Connect, contact or 512-245-5566 as soon as possible prior to the start of the course so Connect support can provide training and set up rooms for your course.

Student Perceptions Survey / Course Evaluation

The student perceptions survey was developed to help ITS and the instructor who designed the course evaluate course effectiveness the first time the course was taught.

We strongly encourage you to use the survey with your students each semester, especially since most departmental surveys do not reflect online course issues. The results of the student perceptions survey will not be shared with ITS or your department unless you choose to do so. Feel free to modify the survey to suit your specific situation or needs.

Return to Top

Student View of Course

Course Color/Name: You can change the color of the side bar and name of the course by going to Site Info and clicking Edit Site Information.

View Site As: Select Student from the drop-down menu list to see how your site appears to students.

Enter at Home Page: Your site was probably set up so that students enter at the Home Page rather than at Site Info. This was done so that students are more likely to see your announcements when they enter the course.

Email Versus Announcements

You can post reminders and clarifications to Announcements and set them to be sent as e-mails to your students. Sending emails to your students using Announcements has two advantages. The first is that the content of your email is available to students whenever they log into your course site (i.e., students don’t have to search for the information in their email inbox). Second, posting new announcements on the Home page of your course site reminds students that you are actively engaged in your site and gives students a reason to log into your site on a regular basis.

To send an announcement as an email, select Email Notification: High – All Participants below the announcement

Return to Top


Statistics and Sorting: Click Statistics at the top of the Forums page to see how many messages each student authored. This is one piece of information to consider when determining a participation grade. You can also click Authored By above a list of posts to sort the list and more readily access all of the posts made by a particular student.

Group Forums: There are two different types of group forums: public and private. Any student in your course can access and post comments to public forums. Only students assigned to a group can post comments to that group’s private forum.

Find out how to create private group forums at TRACS Facts Forums.

You can create public group forums by creating topics with the title of the group name (e.g., Group 1, 2, etc.) and assigning students to those forums by listing them as part of the title (e.g., Group 1: Mary, John, Maurice) or via an announcement.

Return to Top