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Online Education

With nearly 7 million students taking at least one online course, understanding best practices for teaching online is critical. Turn to Faculty Focus for news on the latest trends in online education.


November 14 - What We Can Learn from Unsuccessful Online Students

By: in Online Education

There are many studies that look at how online students differ from those in face-to-face classes in terms of performance, satisfaction, engagement, and other factors. It is well-known that online course completion rates tend to be lower than those for traditional classes. But relatively little is known about what the unsuccessful online student has to say about his or her own experience and how they would improve online learning. Yet these insights can be vital for distance educators.


November 4 - Online Discussion Questions That Work

By: in Asynchronous Learning and Trends, Online Education

Most online faculty know that discussion is one of the biggest advantages of online education. The increased think-time afforded by the asynchronous environment, coupled with the absence of public speaking fears, produces far deeper discussion than is usually found in face-to-face courses.


October 17 - Instructional Design Based on Cognitive Theory

By: in Instructional Design, Online Education

Andy Stanfield, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Florida Institute of Technology, is a proponent of using Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning to improve instructional design.

This theory posits the following:


October 3 - Alternative Assessment Methods for the Online Classroom

By: in Educational Assessment, Online Education

Tests and quizzes are often the primary means of assessing online learner performance; however, as Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt, online instructors and coauthors of numerous online learning books, including Lessons from the Virtual Classroom: The Realities of Online Teaching (2013), point out, there are more effective and less problematic alternatives.


September 23 - How Does Temperament Affect Online Student Success and Retention?

By: in Online Education

o certain personality traits increase students’ chances of success in the online learning environment? It’s an intriguing question that has not received much attention, an oversight that Ben Meredith, director of the Center for Distance Education at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, has sought to remedy.


September 18 - Strategies for Managing Online Discussions

By: in Online Education

In small online courses, instructors have the luxury of participating in frequent personal interactions with students in online discussions. But doing this with more than 15 students can be difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to maintain instructor presence and participation in online discussions without becoming overwhelmed. In an interview with Online Classroom, Heidi Ash, online program director for the Department of Health Studies at Texas Woman’s University, offered the following ways to address this issue:


September 11 - Introduction to Key Concepts in Five Minutes or Less: The ‘Did You Know?’ Microlecture Series

By: in Online Education

The traditional, hour-long lecture that is so familiar to on-the-ground undergraduates has little place in an online learning environment. However, a shorter, more tightly focused microlecture can help engage learners and add a multimedia punch to a course. Cognitive science indicates that learners have a limited capacity for learning, both in terms of concentration time


September 8 - Building Community and Creating Relevance in the Online Classroom

By: in Online Education

Remember feeling nervous before starting your first day on the job? You may have experienced butterflies in your stomach, had questions about expectations, or concerns about learning the rules and finding information. Students feel the same way with a new professor, regardless if the class is face-to-face or online. With technology, you can reduce new-class jitters and get your students on track for success.


August 22 - A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Raising, Communicating, and Enforcing Expectations in Online Courses

By: in Online Education

As an instructor new to the online environment, I carefully reviewed the syllabus and the requirements for the course discussions and assignments and incorporated the following ideas from Myers-Wylie, Mangieri & Hardy: a “what you need to know” document that includes policies about late work, formatting, source citations, grading and feedback, and the dangers of plagiarism; a separate “assignments at a glance” calendar that details due dates and submission instructions; a “frequently asked questions” thread in the discussion forum; detailed scoring rubrics for each assignment, and example assignments. As is typical in the online environment, my course was equipped with areas for announcements and discussions and a grade book with a place to post comments for individual students. I used all these formats to communicate with students about course requirements and provide detailed feedback.


August 15 - How Teaching Online Made Me a Better Face-to-Face Instructor

By: in Online Education

I have been teaching online courses for more than eight years now. I was one of the first at my previous institution to transition a face-to-face (F2F) course to a 100% online course and now, in addition to my F2F courses, I also teach for two fully online institutions. However, I still find many of my F2F colleagues reluctant to make that transition.


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