10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education

Teaching online for the first time is a little like trying to drive a car in a foreign country. You know how to drive, just like you know how to teach, but it sure is hard to get the hang of driving on the left side of the road … you’re not quite sure how far a kilometer is … and darn it if those road signs aren’t all in Japanese.

If you’d like to better understand the “rules of the road” for online teaching and learning, 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education is the perfect guidebook.

10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education

In the traditional college classroom today, faculty and students arrive with a set of expectations, shaped largely by past experiences. And although students may need the occasional (or perhaps frequent) reminder of what’s required of them, there’s usually something very familiar about the experience for both faculty and students alike.

In the online classroom, an entirely new set of variables enters the equation. Variables that, if not managed properly, can lead to frustration and an overall bad experience for teacher and learner.

An insider’s guide to teaching and learning in the online classroom

This special report features a series of columns by Dr. Lawrence C. Ragan, Director of Instructional Design and Development for Penn State’s World Campus, and will help you establish online instructor best practices and performance expectations. The following snippets are just a taste of the insider’s advice found in the full report:

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #1 Show Up and Teach — The necessity of this statement is borne of the misimpression that the online class “teaches itself.” Since most of the course is already authored and designed for online delivery, instructors may believe they simply need to serve as the proverbial “guide on the side” as the students navigate the learning system. Not true!

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #2 Practice Proactive Course Management Strategies — The online instructor can help create a successful learning experience by practicing proactive course management strategies such as monitoring assignment submissions, and communicating and reminding students of missed and/or upcoming deadlines.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #3 Establish Patterns of Course Activities — Although the online classroom environment provides tremendous flexibility of time and place of study, establishing and communicating a course pace and pattern of work can aid both instructor and student, and alleviate confusion around how the course operates.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #4 Plan for the Unplanned — For those small or not-so-small occasions when “life happens,” having a strategy for informing students of these changes can go a long way to maintaining course continuity.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #5 Response Requested and Expected — Timely instructor feedback is essential for the online learner to manage their learning experience. Instructors are expected to respond to student inquiries within one business day.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #6 Think Before You Write — Most experienced online instructors can relay a variety of stories about a dialogue with a student that went awry due to a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the intended message. Take special care to be as clear and concise as possible.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #7 Help Maintain Forward Progress — Students in the online classroom rely on the timely return of assignment and exam grades in order to maintain positive forward progress in their studies.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #8 Safe and Secure — Using the institutionally supported learning management system provides increased degrees of security and confidentiality and keeps “institutional business” within the appropriate confines.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #9 Quality Counts — Instructors need to establish strategies for addressing the quality of the online learning experience, including content resources, instructional design strategies, and systems performance.

Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #10 (Double) Click a Mile on My Connection — As with many aspects of the online classroom, the technological infrastructure plays a critical role in determining student and instructor satisfaction.

Download the report for FREE when you join the Faculty Focus community

Faculty Focus contains a wealth of valuable material – not just about best practices in distance education, but all of the key issues that matter to today’s top faculty and administrators. It’s packed with strategies, tips, and other information you can use on the topics that impact your students, your school and your work, including:

  • Instructional Design
  • Faculty Development
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Distance Learning
  • Classroom Management
  • Educational Assessment
  • Faculty Evaluation
  • Learning Styles
  • Curriculum Development
  • Community College Issues
  • Trends in Higher Education
  • And much, much more.

Published in June 2009, 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education will serve as a valuable guidebook for new online educators, or those who are looking for proven strategies to help them overcome the unique challenges of online teaching.