Frequently Asked Questions

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The Distance Learning Institute works closely with instructors in many disciplines to support the development of new online courses as well as the transitioning of on-campus courses to online and hybrid experiences. We offer one-on-one consulting and instructional design support, course building in Blackboard and other learning platforms, video production, technical support, as well as orientation to various tools and platforms. 
  • How does online learning work?

    While traditional learning takes place in a classroom with four walls, an online learning environment takes place in a virtual classroom contained in the University's learning management system, Blackboard.

    Blackboard Learn allows users to access course materials, activities, assignments, and to collaborate online. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is an online meeting environment that provides real-time online lectures, recordings, office hours, and group collaboration. Students can access their courses and collaborate online from anywhere and at any time through a web browser. All course content is secure must be accessed with a username and password.

    Visit the University's Blackboard Information to learn more.

  • What training and resources are available for online teaching?

    The Distance Learning Institute offers individualized training for faculty as well as technical support during course preparation and delivery. Our EdTech Café Sessions are held throughout the semester to introduce faculty to features and capabilities of the learning management system.

    If you're interested in continuing your education to become a more effective online educator, our Instructional Design & Technology Program is an excellent option for you!

    Need more help? Try a narrative technique training or contact us for more assistance.

  • What are the benefits and incentives for online learning?

    The benefits of online learning include flexibility, access, and convenience since the courses can be taken and delivered from any location. Successful online programs can also lead to increased satisfaction, higher retention and enrollment rates, and greater productivity for instructors. Incentives are available for first-time course transitions. These incentives include monetary stipends toward first-time course development and additional teaching assistant support during the online course delivery. Department support and approval is required before a curse can be offered online. Learn more about the course development process.

  • Is online teaching right for me and my course topic?

    Teaching in the online environment is different from teaching a traditional face-to-face course, and it may not be the right fit for every topic or instructor. Instructors must consider carefully when deciding if their course learning objectives could be achieved through online resources and technologies. Instructors often need to rethink the design of their course and consider a variety of new instructional techniques to enhance learning. We offer student success resources for you and your learners to review.

    There are great benefits to teaching online, but challenges as well. The Distance Learning Institute is available to discuss needs and propose solutions. 

    Learn more about course building or contact us to get started.

  • What support is available for faculty members?

    The Distance Learning Institute offers a host of services aimed to help instructors transition to teaching online. These services range from providing assistance in the initial phases of course development to hosting individual sessions about best practices for revising existing course content. Oftentimes, members of our team work with faculty to utilize video production and learning object development in their courses.

    Ultimately, we aim to assist faculty in creating engaging educational experiences that bring together strong course goals with effective instructional tools. This includes providing technical support for the platforms instructors will use in their courses.

    Course development support is available, contact us to learn more.

  • How much work is involved in course conversion?

    Transforming a course for the online environment often requires redesign effort to clarify learning objectives, organize course content, and identify resources. It is estimated that an instructor needs approximately 30 to 40 hours to design a course, 10 to 20 hours of technical support, and 6 to 16 hours of instructional design to reconfigure and support the online course.

    Ready to start building your course? We can help.

  • Is online learning right for my students?

    Students come to the University of Miami with a variety of experiences and opinions. Students exploring online classes for the first time may have reservations about venturing into this new environment. For some, the online option offers exceptional flexibility and convenience. But just as teaching online requires new and different skills, online learning may not be easy for every student.

    The Distance Learning Institute offers a variety of resources to help evaluate student success.

  • Will my online students have access to services?

    University of Miami students enrolled in online courses at the University have access to daily technical support. Online students at the Distance Learning Institute have unlimited access to the campus bookstore and libraries, which offer online databases for research.

    Efforts are underway to ensure that students in an online class have access to all of the same services as traditional students. Services such as advising, tutoring, The Writing Center, and Disabilities Services are all expected to be available for participants in online courses.

  • What equipment will my students need?

    In addition to the drive and determination, good time management skills, and good reading skills, your learners will need reliable access to the internet and a reliable computer. Some courses may require a web camera and headset with microphone for the synchronous meetings. Both are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased online or at an electronics retailer.

    Students will also need the Microsoft Office Suite of products. Specialized courses may require additional software but are usually listed within course material requirements. As a student at UM, you are eligible for a copy of these products. To learn more visit the Microsoft Office information page.

    Students can check computer capability with Blackboard here.