Six Best Practices for Teaching Online Courses

Online courses are great for working students and remote students, and they allow schools to reach more students than ever before. As these courses have become increasingly popular, we’ve learned what teaching strategies do and don’t work. Below are some best practices to ensure a successful course for all.


Show Up and Teach – The number one best practice for online teachers according to Designing for Learning and the Distance Education Report is to be available to your students. This means being present in the communication forums used to interact with your students on a regular basis to address questions, facilitate discussions, etc. Also, set up virtual office hours so that students can contact you by phone or email outside of class times.


Create a Clear Set of Expectations – Let your students know how you expect them to participate in the virtual classroom, and how you plan to communicate with them.


Provide Feedback ConsistentlyCincinnati State notes that online courses can make students feel a little isolated, but that consistent feedback is a great way to avoid that feeling. For example, you can praise a student for making an insightful comment in a forum, just like you would in the classroom.


Use a Variety of Activities – Several resources also suggest varying the types of classroom activities you use to keep students from becoming bored. Real-time discussions, individual assignments, and group projects are just a few examples of ways to keep the course fresh and interesting.


Use a Combination of Teaching Methods – Designing for Learning suggests combining core concept learning with customized or personalized learning by identifying the performance goals of the course and then mentoring students through the assignments that apply those concepts.


Ensure Students Have the Prerequisite Skills – Students sometimes enroll for online courses without a basic understanding of file management, communicating online, and the basic computer skills required to be successful. Establish a set of criteria, or pre-test students using an online computer inventory test to determine their readiness for an online course.


Are you currently teaching online courses? If so, what best practices do you follow to ensure that you are teaching the course effectively? Leave a comment to share your thoughts with Labyrinth Learning.


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