10 Best Practices for Teaching Online (plus 4 more)

Below is a list of 10 best practices for teaching online from Boettcher & Conrad’s book The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips, along with some practical suggestions.

1) Be present at the course site

  • Include my contact details (email) as part of the course
  • Contact learners to provide my details and let them know they can contact me with any questions
  • Assign specific time in my calendar to be present online and review discussion forums, assignments, post new resources, etc.

2) Create a supportive online course community

  • Create a discussion forum for learners to post questions and contact experts
  • Create assignments that encourage learners to post and give other learners feedback

3) Develop a set of explicit expectations for your learner and yourself as to how you will communicate and how much time students should be working on the course each week

  • Create an email template that will be sent to all new learners with clear expectations – how long it will take to complete the eLearn, how many models and what order they need to be done in, expectations for assignments, standard of how long it will take me or expert network to respond to questions

4) Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences

  • Create multiple assignments or knowledge check activities which require learners to work on their own or contribute to a group project
  • Group project example – post to a discussion forums ideas and other learners to provide feedback

5) Use synchronous and asynchronous activities

  • asynchronous – allow learners to complete elearn and assignment on their own schedule and provide a place to ask questions and hear from other learners
  • synchronous – schedule a monthly or quarterly skype call to bring learners together and share what they learnt, ask specific questions and bring their learning together

6) Ask for informal feedback early in the term

  • Create a feedback form to collect information from learners about what they like about the elearn and what didn’t work from them and what would have helped them learn better
  • Set up focus groups to collect feedback from learners

7) Prepare discussion posts that invite responses, questions, discussions, and reflections

  • Ask experts in the business to pose questions on discussion forums to learners that encourage them to deepen their thinking
  • Ensure experts are visiting the discussion forum regularly to respond to posts and ask further questions

8) Search out and use content resources that are available in digital format

  • Ensure all user manuals are saved online in a logical space for learners to find content

9) Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning

  • Create learning pathways for individual roles and use the technology of the LMS to give suggested readings or additional courses

10) Plan a good closing and wrap activity for the course

  • Final assignment that ties everything they have learnt together, possibly present at next quarterly team meeting

Additional considerations
11) Assess as you go by gathering evidence of learning
12) Rigorously connect content to core concepts and learning outcomes
13) Develop and use a content frame for your course
14) Design experiences to help learners make progress on their novice-to-expert journey

Boettcher, J. & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass


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