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[Similar to FAQs for beginners]

This document was created by Margaret Driscoll

Here’s also a great article to link to re best practices for online instructors:


Advice Wanted


Advice offered

The ABCs of teaching online. Mostly dos and don'ts. Pitfalls to avoid


Creating an online course: 1. time-consuming 2. selecting appropriate technology/devices 3. expecting timely IT support 4. dealing with "problem" students


Specific ways to (1) encourage participation; (2) build relationships; (3) support faltering students; (4) get started . . e.g. Should I enroll in an online course? If so, how to choose it?



DO: Make all items used consistent in format

DO: Complete and submit sample assignments as you expect your students to do inside your LMS.

DO: Make sure students know how to login..  to any apps, accts needed for full participation - give some really brief assignments early that require use of several key technologies, accounts, apps for the enter course to ensure that everyone can and does get able to use the tech.

DO: Use an early small assignment to gauge pace capabilities of students

DO: Try at least one thing (technology, technique, strategy) you're not sure of;  don't try too many things you're not sure of

DO: Make all content available (and accessible!) immediately

DO: Ask support staff to help with anything that seems legit to ask them for!


What are the essential elements needed to effectively teach an online course?



Preparation / Expectations

·      Don't expect first online teaching experience to be terrific, but don't give up if it isn't!

·      Remember what you believe about teaching and learning in traditional [mostly not online] settings

·      Tell your Instructional Technology person what you are working on. They can probably give you advance notice of bumps in the road ahead.

·      Distance learning is HUGELY different than blended learning. Start simple Have plan B, C, D.

·      Plan for extra time than f2f You need to prepare much more than you would for non-online courses.

·      Be comfortable with your own mistakes

·      Have plan B ready for tech mishaps

·      Overplan

·      "Gracie Allen" principle - remove something before beginning

·      Expect it to take more time than you expect the first time you teach

·      Preview the course design as a student to try every element of content and every interactive tool such as discussions and assessments to ensure that they all function properly. This takes time up front, but eliminates some nasty last-minute surprises. What are the gotchas?



Pacing the course.


·      Require max and min # of postings from students (to modify pacing)

·      Plan in modules and make estimates of student time required for each and revise estimates based on experience.

·      Don’t expect to be able to predict accurately right away how long things will take … be comfortable learning from experience.


Activities that work online.

How to engage students online.


·      Personalize, humanize (include your "voice", persona

·      Add some audio recordings or live audio modules to give more personal dimension!

·      Private (not accessible to other students) 1-1 journals, logs, wikis ...

·      Engagement - creating learning/course content – learning by teaching / sharing / publishing!

·      Allow more discursive statements/questions in discussion boards to let students reveal more of who they are and what they think

·      Provide EXAMPLES of good ways of participating in discussion


Synchronous sessions in asynchronous course

·      Include at least one synchronous event that includes live voices.

·      Ask IT staff to help include synchronous session/s with asynchronous online course.

·      Encourage attendance, participation in any synch sessions AND offer asynch access if possible afterwards to whatever happened.  

·      Don't expect as many people as who claim they are going to use the recording of synch sessions to actually do so.

·      Look at stats for usage of recordings, other resources!

·      Tell people in advance about required or strongly recommended synch sessions.

·      In include interactivity in synchronous sessions – don’t use as a ‘lecture only’ platform.


Students expect immediate responses and continual access to the instructor.

Anticipate expectations, influence expectations (students’ expectations, teachers’ expectations, colleagues’ expectations, administrators’ expectations, …)


How do you control for cheating

Consider team-based learning, team-based assignments (include peer review as part of teamwork) - provide models, guidelines, rubrics

How much time do you really have to spend on a class should you tell students how often you will check in and review their posts, i.e. set some ground rules at the start of the course What are the most effective methods.




Insert BRIEF (max 10 mins) audio or video announcements occasionally (weekly?) update info about expectations and about assignments about office hours, hints, interactive options?


How to prompt relationship-building among students not physically together.


·      Facilitate interactions among participants

·      Don't assume anything when someone seems not to be participating... ASK

·      Offer examples and tools (at least 1) to encourage VERY BRIEF statements, offerings from each students  - makes them all more visible to each other, known to each other

·      Being an exemplar - NOT PERFECTLY

·      Give decision-making to teams about HOW to collaborate


How to begin learning for myself: take an online course?


·      Collaborate long-term with mentors teaching online in the same or similar field and using the same LMS.

·      Walk-talk (with colleagues, etc.) through your online program, from curriculum development to course delivery and assessment.

·      PRACTICE your course both as a student and as a facilitator.

·      Ask colleague to review your plans and materials


Key competencies of adult e-online moderator I'm ready to transit a course to online. Thinking about how to duplicate the experiences and maintain community.



Are things like Google docs and other tools that physically reside OUTSIDE an LMS easy to use from INSIDE the LMS?



How do you control for students getting others to do their assignments



How do I go about getting an online position?