Welcome! I’m Dana Masden, the author of this website and teaching manual. I have been an instructor at Colorado State University in the English department since 2009.


In the summer of 2010, I was asked to teach two sections of CO150 online without having any previous experience teaching online (I had not even taken an online course myself). I was excited to begin this endeavor, but felt vastly under-qualified from a pedagogical perspective. I worked to seek out information on how I would adapt a CO150 course to an online environment, but found that a tight deadline meant I just had to jump in. After several summers of teaching multiple sections of CO150 online, I have been asked to compose this document to help any future CO150 instructors like me—teachers who have plenty of face-to-face experience but might need some guidance in how to translate that experience to an online setting.

In doing so, I’ve worked to put together what I wished I’d had access to myself. I also have had many conversations with teachers who are new to teaching online and am familiar with the common questions teachers tend to have.

As a result, this manual is part anecdotal guide, part answers to frequently asked questions, part scholarly research, part sample syllabi, and part links to even more resources. My suggestion would be to begin with FAQs and follow the links in that order, though you certainly may go through it any way that is intuitive to you. In the FAQ section, under the question “Where do I begin?” I have included a checklist of the very first things you might want to do after being asked to teach a course.

Lastly, I wanted to add that while I was in the middle of composing this manual (early 2015), CSU was in the middle of switching online course management systems from RamCt to Canvas and unfortunately I was not able to use Canvas before the composing of this document. I did attend several training sessions regarding Canvas and added my notes of what I learned to the FAQ section, but I do recognize that this part of the manual will likely need to be updated once we have all gotten used to this new online management system and learned some special tricks. In the meantime, I have included a link to Alyson Welker’s wonderful CO300 teaching manual, as her material goes into greater detail about Canvas. (This link can be found under FAQs: “How Can I use Canvas Effectively?”) Under Quick Links, you can find a link to Kathy Zeller’s blog, which is specifically aimed at CLA instructors transitioning to Canvas.

I would finally like to note this about online teaching: as a new online teacher, be optimistic. I personally found that much of what I already do as a teacher could be translated to an online setting—our background of “teaching in the margins” and our rhetorical approaches to CO150 can and do work online, as even in eight week courses I noticed the same improvements in student writing that I did in face to face sixteen week courses. I was able to showcase my teaching persona to this new student audience, hold valuable workshops, create engaging discussion, and everything else that I thought just wouldn’t work online. The following manual is intended to give you suggestions on you might do the same.

Dana Masden

Instructor. Colorado State University

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