2017 Fundamentals of Online Teaching Certificate

About this certificate

Making the transition from classroom instruction to teaching online involves adopting a whole new set of teaching and course management skills. This certificate provides you with a foundation in the pedagogy of online instruction focusing on key terminology, principles, and practices. You will explore practical guidelines for designing and teaching online courses including strategies to facilitate active, participatory, and engaging online learning experiences. The certificate will include a hands-on project which you will apply to your own teaching situation.

The combination of online course work with a rich, face-to-face conference experience will give you a jump-start into the world of online teaching and learning.  If you are, a newcomer to distance education, this will be one of the most valuable professional development investments for your career growth.

At a glance

Online course work: June 27 – August 14 (Note: for those enrolled after June 27, you will receive specific instructions for time to complete pre-conference coursework; final enrollment deadline for this certificate is July 16).

Conference certificate session: July 25, 8:15 am-2:45 pm

Total time: 50 hours (approx. 30 hours of online course work + 20 hours conference attendance, including Tuesday certificate session)

CEUs: 5 (also includes digital badge)

Cost: $995 (includes full conference registration and Tuesday lunch)

Who should attend?

This certificate is designed for educators who have little or no online teaching experience and need an orientation to teaching in the online environment.  It is ideal for anyone just getting started in designing and teaching online courses who would benefit from a credential demonstrating their accomplishment.

Learning goals

This blended learning experience lays the foundation for you to become a knowledgeable and skilled online instructor.  After you complete this certificate you will be able to:

  • Explain how the online environment influences the role of both instructor and learners.
  • Describe the core knowledge and skills needed to become an effective online instructor.
  • Apply evidence-based principles to start planning content and learning activities for the online environment.
  • Plan interactive instruction strategies that support active learning.
  • Plan course management strategies that help save time and resources.

This certificate is not a hands-on guide for developing a complete online course.  Rather, it should be viewed as a prerequisite for online course development and teaching.

Certificate structure and schedule

This certificate involves 4 major learning components:

  1. Pre-conference Online Course Work  (June 27 – July 25)
    The pre-conference work includes four modules that introduce you to the online environment. These modules should be completed before attending the conference certificate session. (Note: For those enrolled after June 27, you will receive specific instructions for time to complete pre-conference coursework. Final enrollment deadline for this certificate is July 16.)
  1. Conference Certificate Session  (July 25, 8:15 am to 2:45 pm)
    The conference session is highly interactive with various hands-on activities. You will need to bring your own device to explore various interactive tools.  Lunch is included.
  2. Conference Attendance  (July 25 – 27)
    Recommended conference sessions will be provided to augment the certificate experience. Special meet-ups with classmates will be scheduled throughout the conference.
  3. Post-Conference Online Course Work  (July 28 – August 14)
    Following the conference, the completion of two additional modules is required. This also includes a final project that incorporates the material covered in the course work and conference certificate session. Upon completion and review by facilitator, you will receive a certificate of completion as well as a digital badge.

Participant requirements

To successfully complete this certificate and receive 5 CEUs, participants must do the following:

  • Complete all six online modules and participate in learning activities.
  • Attend the conference.
  • Attend the conference certificate session on Tuesday, July 25, 8:15 am-2:45 pm.
  • Complete and submit a final project.

Content overview

PRE-CONFERENCE ONLINE MODULES (approximately 5-6 hours per module)

Module 1: Online Course Models and Principles

Key topics include:

  • Technology capabilities and effective teaching practices
  • How the online environment impacts teaching and learning
  • Basic components of online courses
  • Benefits and challenges of teaching online
  • Requirements for an effective online instructor

Module 2: Role of the Online Learner

Key topics include:

  • How distance and technology affects learners
  • Skills and competencies for online learner success
  • How instructors can better support and scaffold learning

Module 3: Role of the Online Instructor

Key topics include:

  • Similarities and differences between online and face-to-face teaching
  • Skills and competencies needed for online instructors
  • Active learning principles to engage learners
  • Establishing a teaching presence in the online classroom

Module 4: Planning Course Content

Key topics include:

  • The role and importance of learning objectives in course design
  • Structuring, chunking, and formatting content
  • Creating learner profiles when planning courses
  • Ways to make content relevant to learners
  • Copyright and accessibility considerations


All certificate registrants must attend this face-to-face session on Tuesday, July 25 from 8:15 am – 2:45 pm. Lunch is included.

Key topics include:

  • Effective communication strategies
  • Course communication tools
  • Instructional strategies for the online classroom



In addition to the conference certificate session, you will receive an overview of the conference and a list of suggested conference sessions to attend that support the online certificate learning modules. You will have ample networking time during the conference to connect with other distance education professionals and learn from their experiences. On the final day of the conference, certificate participants will meet as a group and debrief sessions attended.

Conference Meetups:

  • Tuesday: Lunch, 11:30 am
  • Tuesday evening: TBD
  • Wednesday: Lunch, noon (reserved seating)
  • Thursday: Early continental breakfast, 7:00 am at Monona Terrace

POST-CONFERENCE ONLINE MODULES (approximately 5-6 hours per module)

Module 5: Planning Learning Activities

Key topics include:

  • Guidelines for planning learner interactions
  • Learner, content and instructor interactions
  • Learning activity design
  • Strategies for providing meaningful feedback
  • Interaction principles for the design of online learning activities

Module 6: Course Management Strategies

Key topics include:

  • Time management strategies for online instructors
  • Course management strategies and policies
  • Strategies to support online communication and interaction
  • Managing students’ needs and expectations

Learning Materials

Learning Materials

All readings and course content will be provided online through the learning management system, Desire2Learn (D2L). Additional materials will be handed out at the conference certificate session.

Certificate Instructor and Facilitator

Janet Staker Woerner, Ph.D., Program Manager and Course Instructor, UW-Madison, Division of Continuing Studies, Distance Education Professional DevelopmentJanet Staker Woerner, PhD
Program Manager and Course Instructor
UW-Madison, Division of Continuing Studies, Distance Education Professional Development
Janet Staker Woerner is a faculty associate for DEPD certificate programs and courses at UW-Madison Continuing Studies. She is responsible for designing curriculum, teaching, and assessment. Prior to joining UW-Madison, Janet was an associate professor and system department chair in a higher education environment as well as a practitioner in business. She has taught in the online environment since 2004 and holds a PhD in Education with an emphasis on technology from Walden University’s Richard W. Riley School of Education; she has a master’s degree in marketing from the Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business with an emphasis in the digital environment. Janet is a certified peer reviewer for Quality Matters. Her current research stream is social media and the connection to social capital in higher education. www.linkedin.com/in/janetstakerwoerner

Karin Spader headshotKarin Spader
Curriculum & Instruction-Digital Media, UW-Madison
Karin is a PhD student in Curriculum & Instruction-Digital Media, studying online learning in higher education. She obtained a B.S. in Psychology, M.S. Experimental Psychology, and M.A. in Sociology all from Western Illinois University. She has taught a variety of courses, ranging from psychology and sociology to critical thinking and public speaking, over the past 9 years; teaching and learning are her life’s passion.


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