A few of the most important policies to list in the online syllabus are:
1. Participation requirements. This should not be left open-ended. Students who are new to the online environment might think that they only need to log in to the course to get assignments and turn them in.
Most courses, if designed well, should require students to log in and participate at least as often as they would sit in class every week. Having specific policies (such as “you need to log in and post to the forums at least 3 days a week”) are a necessity.
Students should know what you expect in terms of a) how often they should log in b) how often/how much they need to post each week and c) what the expectations are in terms of those posts
2. Late work. Students in the online environment can and will pull excuses for having late work because they don’t have to face the instructor in person. It’s so much easier to email and ask for more time or make excuses. Therefore, your policy needs to be very clear and you need to adhere to it.
3. Plagiarism. It’s easier to check papers for plagiarism online--- and students who learn online might be more likely to risk that behavior. Make sure you tell students that you will check their papers and what the consequences are for plagiarism. Even better, give them information about what it is as many of them may not even know.
4. Expected response time from you. Students will get anxiety if they ask you a question and you don’t respond to them within a few hours. They need to know when they can expect a response and what the quickest way to get a response might be (virtual office forum, direct email, phone).
As with any teaching need, you can see CISTL staff for help on creating your online syllabus.Syllabus Template