Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research

Start of Semester Checklist

Below are resources to assist faculty with the preparation of start of semester tasks. Ensure that you have completed all of the following at least a week prior to the beginning of each semester.

✔ Check Student Enrollments

Check student enrollments in each of your Western Online Courses to ensure that they are correct.

  1. Login to your course, choose Grade Tools > Grades from the navigation menu.
  2. Click on Classlist and then review the students to ensure that the number of students matches the enrollments showing on STARS.

✔ Update Zoom or Google Meet Links

Make any necessary changes to your Zoom Links or Google Meet links. Add them to your syllabus and it is recommended that you add a widget to your Western Online course homepage. View the Class Meeting Widget Tip Sheet (Google Doc) for details.

✔ Enroll Teaching or Graduate Assistants into Western Online Courses

  1. Determine Access Rights
    • TSA or TSA-Gradebook: Gives the user full access and editing rights to a Western Online Course including access to the grade book.
    • Course Facilitator - Used for graduate assistants (GAs): Gives the user full access and editing rights to a Western Online Course without access to the grade book.
  2. From the Navigation menu, choose Communication > Classlist.
  3. Click Add Participants and choose Add existing users.
  4. Type in the person’s name in the Search For text box and click the Magnifying Glass. The person’s name will appear at the bottom.
  5. Click in the box to the left of their name to select them.
  6. Select the role you want them to have from the Role drop-down menu and choose the course section from the Section drop-down menu (if applicable).
  7. Click Enroll Selected Users at the bottom.
  8. Click Done.

✔ Create and Update Groups within Western Online

Create group work areas for users with the Groups tool. You can use groups to organize users’ work on projects and assignments, or you can create special work areas for users with different learning needs. Learn About Western Online Groups .

✔ Finalize Content

Review all content development and course modifications.

✔ Review Due Dates and Date Restrictions

Ensure that all due dates, date restrictions and etc. are updated and correct for the upcoming semester.

  1. Choose Course Admin from the navigation bar.
  2. Click on the Manage Dates link under the Site Resources area of the Course Administration page.
  3. Click on the checkbox in front of any item you want to offset dates for, alternatively if you want to select all dates, click on the checkbox in front of the Bulk Edit Dates link above the table.
  4. Click the Bulk Offset Dates link.
  5. In the Bulk Offset Dates dialog box, select Calculate range between two dates.
  6. Enter the From (start date of the course you copied content from) and the To (beginning date of new course) dates in the fields provided.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Check all dates for accuracy and update anything that does not appear to be correct.

✔ Update student orientation materials.

CITR can assist you in copying materials into your course. Request this assistance by emailing CITR@wiu.edu with a list of courses you would like these materials copied into.

✔ Welcome Announcement

Add a welcome announcement to each of your course homepages.

✔ Introductions

Ensure that you have set up an area of introductions in the Online Discussion area. Include your own introduction to the class there as well.

✔ Test Links and Documents

Test all links and documents to ensure they are working and connecting to the correct information.

✔ Test Third-Party Applications

New LTI integrations (e.g. Pearson, Cengage, MacMillan, etc.) take time to set up. If you are requesting a new integration you should contact CITR with that request at least 6 weeks preferably longer before the beginning of the course in which you intend to use the new integration.

✔ Welcome Email

Send a welcome email to your student at least 1 week prior to the start of classes.

✔ Activate Courses

By default, the Course has start and end date options set to the semester start date and 7 days past the semester end date.

  • Find the course in your My Courses widget on the system home page.
  • Hover over the course and click the more actions icon (3 little dots) and choose Course Offering Information.
  • About half way down the page under Active put a check next to Course is Active.
  • Click Save.