online student with laptop April 4

Principles that Help Make Online Courses Successful


Beverley McGuire has taught online courses for 10 years, and she’s been a student in them for five. From those experiences, she’s learned a few things about making online courses effective. She’s also conversant with current research and collaborates with colleagues. From that knowledge and those experiences, she identifies five key design and delivery principles for online courses. She teaches religious study courses, but her principles are broadly applicable.

Humanizing the course website
It’s a simple but powerful principle. When students first open the course website, they are meeting the course and its instructor. What’s their first impression if the website is not easy to navigate? How much text confronts them during this first encounter? “By humanizing their course website, instructors enable student to get a sense of their passion, personality, or persona, which can create a sense of teaching presence” (p. 31). McGuire continues, “Although I initially gave little thought to the appearance of my course website, viewing it as a repository for syllabi, lectures, and assignments, I now approach it as a kind of virtual persona” (p. 32).

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Beth Harger interviews Bridget Arend, University of Denver August 5, 2016

PA011: Interview with Dr. Bridget Arend (Part 1)


On this episode, we interview Dr. Bridget Arend, director of university teaching at the Office of Teaching and Learning at the University of Denver. Our discussion is a follow up to her presentation at the Teaching Professor Conference in June, where she led a session titled “Best of All Worlds: Combining Discussion Formats for Deeper Inquiry.”

From F2F to Online: Getting It Right August 28, 2015

From F2F to Online: Getting It Right


Successfully transferring a face-to-face course to the online learning environment requires careful preparations that take into account differences between these two modalities.

“If you simply take your face-to-face class and put it online and teach it electronically, you will fail miserably,” says Paul S. Caron, director of education at Lewiston-Auburn College, whose first experience teaching online taught him some valuable lessons about how to provide students with an effective, supportive, and motivating learning experience.

August 15, 2014

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


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.

February 14, 2014

Selecting the Appropriate Communication Tools for Your Online Course


When designing an online course it’s important to carefully consider which tools align with the course’s learning objectives and the types of communication that will occur.

There are three types of communication that can occur in an online course—one to one, one to many, and many to many. In an interview with Online Classroom, Sara Ombres, faculty development instructor, and Anna Reese, production coordinator/instructional designer, both at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Worldwide Campus, talked about how they help instructors select communication tools to suit the situation.

January 28, 2014

Creating a Learner-Friendly Online Course


Cynthia Schmitt, senior director of continuing education at Florida Institute of Technology, tries to make the online learning experience comfortable and efficient for students. Students want their courses to be convenient, easy to use, responsive, and accessible so that the technology does not get in the way of learning. Here are some ways Schmitt recommends achieving these goals: