Best Practices for Online Instruction

by Kona Jones and Liz Jackson from Online Learning, Richland Community College.

There are many different theories for online instruction, but overall the research literature suggests specific “best practices” that increase student engagement and retention in online courses. The student-centered design of Canvas provides an excellent place to seamlessly integrate some of the the following best practices for Online Learning:

  1. Be present at the course site
  2. Create a supportive online course community
  3. Share a set of very clear expectations for your students as to how you will communicate and how much time students should be working on the course each week
  4. Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences
  5. Use both synchronous and asynchronous activities
  6. Early in the term — about week 3 — ask for informational feedback on “How is the course going?” and “Do you have any suggestions?” The Learning Feedback System can be used for this type of feedback, as well as midterm and end of the semester feedback!
  7. Prepare discussion posts that invite questions, discussions, reflections and responses
  8. Focus on content resources, applications, links to current events and examples that are easily accessed from learner’s computers
  9. Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning
  10. Plan a good closing and wrap-up activity for the course

For more information on the above practices, see the Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online  by Judith V. Boettcher.

Additional Resource

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

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