Transcript for Administrative Tips as You Start Your Course Video

Hello, and welcome to York University! My name is Jon Sufrin. I’m a faculty member in the department of Writing here at York.

The Teaching Commons has asked me to offer some additional helpful tips for course directors new to the University.

This video, one of three, provides faculty with some suggestions on administrative matters for you to review before your course starts.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is this: despite what the official schedule says classes end at ten minutes before the official time listed.

That is, the schedule for your class may say your lecture time is 12:30 to 2:30, but your lecture should end at 2:20.

Similarly, if the catalogue indicates a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class, beginning at 10am, with a duration 60 minutes, in actual fact, the class is 50 minutes and would end at 10:50am, instead of at 11am.

There are three reasons for this:

First, students may have classes on the other side of campus, and it takes time to travel between locations, especially in the winter.

There are also questions of accessibility to consider, some students might need more time to get to the lecture hall and get settled.

Second, and related, the ten minute gap is a necessary transition time for students to leave and enter the lecture hall, meet briefly with instructors etc.

Third, it is collegial behaviour towards your fellow instructors. Their classes are scheduled to start on time, as per the official schedule. If your lecture goes right to, say, 1:30, and does not end at 1:20, they may start their lecture late, especially if they need time to get set up.

Next, remember that the main way most students get their information is from online sources.  

Consider creating a Moodle website (or other platform, as applicable) well in advance.

Post a syllabus online before the course starts and remind students of add/drop deadlines.

Also post key dates in the course (including lecture/tutorial attendance) for the first few weeks of term.

If your course is full, be prepared for students who want your permission to enroll without having an official spot. Several pieces of advice may help here:

First, note that in the first two weeks of each term, students add/drop courses through online course enrollment only, and course directors cannot directly affect this process. Tell your students to keep watching online for a space to open up.

Second, consider that there are caps on class sizes, often governed by the York’s collective agreements. There are also fire regulations, which stipulate the number of people who may be in a room at any one time. Some classrooms can hold no more than 26—that’s 25 students, 1 instructor.

Third, CUPE Unit 1 Teaching Assistants (graduate students hired to TA) are contractually responsible for 270 hours (in a full course). If you over-enroll a class, they may exceed this number of hours in the normal performance of their duties.

It is also important to note that tutorials & labs are not transferable; students must go to the one they are enrolled in (and they must be enrolled in one!).

It is important to stress this for both administrative and contractual reasons, because students may simply attend the tutorial that best fits their schedule otherwise.

Next, if the library has copies of key course texts, consider putting them on reserve, so they remain accessible to all. Similarly, many course directors put copies of custom-built course kits on reserve for their students.

Finally, you may find that students download electronic copies of course texts for platforms such as Kindle. While the actual e-text will have the same information as a physical copy of the book, many e-Texts do not come with page numbers in Kindle (these cost money for the publisher to add).

Students should look for the book in the online Kindle Store, and not on the main website for the book (i.e.

Look below the title information to see if the text has the phrase “Contains Real Page Numbers” following the official page number count.

Students can use this to see which edition of the print book has been used to provide the page numbers—this will be identified by the text’s ISBN number.

As this suggests, students might download a different e-text edition than the official course version, and they should be warned about this too. So my advice is to post the ISBN numbers of course texts on your Moodle website, or include them in your syllabus.

With this possibility in mind, you may also want to provide students with information concerning how to cite e-texts in their course work, if that is applicable.

Thanks for listening and welcome to York! Hope this was of some help to you.