Online Teaching Principles
Derived from research-based best practices, these principles are intended to supplement the QM Higher Education 6th edition course design rubric to guide effective facilitation of online and hybrid courses at Cal State Fullerton. These principles are a tool for faculty development and are not intended as an exhaustive list of online or hybrid instructor competencies or tasks; moreover, other “applied examples” beyond those listed may fulfill the spirit and intent of these principles.
Select resources supporting the Online Teaching Principles are listed below.
Ensure that the course content is updated, functional, and published on time.
The course site should have an updated syllabus, instructor information section and communication policy; Canvas due dates and times should be checked for accuracy; any external tools should be fully set up; and the course site should be made available to students no later than the first day of the term.
State and implement course policies that are sensitive to the needs of nontraditional students.
Create consistency in cycles of work; allow at least one weekend day for recurring and large assignments and exams; allow late submissions whenever feasible (for partial credit if needed); schedule module releases so students can work slightly ahead if needed.
Communicate Clearly and Quickly
State and implement a clear communication policy that supports the pace and structure of the course
A clear communication policy sets expectations and a tone for the course, and it communicates to nontraditional, online and hybrid students that you’re aware of their needs. For example, a 24-hour response time on business days to student emails and providing information about how to schedule a “student hours” appointment outside of email.
Provide timely notice to students about changes to course materials, due dates, procedures or your communication availability.
Provide advance notice whenever possible (via email, a course announcement, etc.) if something has changed. It’s especially important to notify students about any deviations from the stated communication plan, such as illness, conference travel or family emergencies.
Commit to Timeliness
Provide grades and meaningful feedback before the next assignment is due, including on graded discussion board activities.
Students need timely feedback to understand their progress in the course and to apply that feedback before the next assignment. The timing for feedback should align with the pace of the course, but a good rule of thumb is to return it within one week.
Demonstrate instructor presence by using course tools effectively to engage with learners and to encourage active learning.
Instructor presence in the online and hybrid classrooms is one of the strongest indicators of student success and satisfaction. Canvas course tools, email and external tools should be used in an intentional and effective way to communicate with students and encourage them to be active participants in their learning.
Ladyshewsky, R. K. (2013); Martin, J. (2019)
Cultivate a community among online/hybrid students by facilitating regular and meaningful interaction between learners.
Play an active role in creating a sense of community by participating in and facilitating student-to-student interaction in discussion forums, checking in with project groups, etc. This is particularly important for true distance students, who want to feel a sense of belonging to the Titan community.
Communicate in a supportive manner.
The tone and content of your communication with students should be positive and encouraging, with the intent of supporting students through challenges and encouraging a growth mindset. This communication includes course announcements, emails, discussion board posts, written feedback on assignments, etc.
Reach Out and Refer
Check in with students who may be struggling, and refer students to the appropriate technology, academic or student support services in response to their articulated or observed needs.
Observe student progress and check in with students who are unresponsive or not meeting course expectations. Be responsive when students reach out about any course-related, academic, personal or financial issues; refer students to appropriate resources available to CSUF students as needed, and connect with campus Student Services for assistance in making referrals.
Make facilitation choices that support diverse students and make each student feel welcomed and valued.
Welcome students to the course; refer to each student by name and with the appropriate pronouns; highlight student successes; encourage students who may not feel like they belong in higher education; and respect and honor diverse student identities, experiences and perspectives.
For Hybrid Courses Only: Blend Learning
Explicitly draw connections between in-class and online learning activities to blend learning across the modalities.
Make intentional connections between in-class and online learning and identify those connections for students, e.g. students might summarize an online discussion in class that launches an in-class group activity that leads to a follow-up writing assignment online.
Adapted from Oregon State University Ecampus Online Teaching Principles are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International license
Interesting Articles to Improve Your Online Teaching
- A Ripple Effect of Change: Reclaiming a Sense of Joy and Purpose through Online Learning Culture and Restorative Practices by Melissa Brevetti, PhD, and Bradley Mays, PhD
- How long Should Vides Be for E-Learning? by Laura Lynch
- Putting Your Best Self Forward: 6 Keys For Filming Quality Video by Jered Borup
- Designing for Accessibility: How to Front-Load Your Digital Content with UDL Principles by Caran Howard, PhD
- Textbook Costs can Bust College Students’ Budgets. Colorado Professors areTurning the Page with Free Resources by Erica Breunlin
- Bring Meaning to Online Discussion with Intentional Design by Melissa Brydon
- A Discussion About Online Discussion by Amanda Page and Miriam Abbott
- Reading Textbooks: The College Plague by Dimple J. Martin, PhD
- Organic Online Discussions: Saving Time and Increasing Engagement by Beth René Roepnack, PhD
- Easy to Implement Strategies for Disabilities in the College Classroom by Sara Schley, EdD
- The Lack of Student Attendance: Feed Them Carrots, They Will Come by Dimple J. Martin, PhD
- Supporting Underprepared Students in the Online Classroom by Lisa Borrero, PhD, and Amanda Jayne Miller, PhD
- Teaching Online Will Make You a Better Teacher in Any Setting by Kevin Gannon
- Bringing PEACE to the Classroom by Donald Saucier, PhD
- I Am Not a Robot by Kelly Price, PhD, and Julia Price, EdD
- Variations to Traditional Multiple-Choice Testing by Lynne N. Kennette, PhD, Phoebe S. Lin, PhD, and Lisa R. Van Havermaet, PhD
- Best Sources for Free Digital Textbooks and More by Dian Schaffhauser
- 7 Strategies to Promote Community in Online Courses by Brian Udermann, PhD
- Photography Projects for Students of all Ages by Bonnie Skott
- Five Ways to Build Community in Online Classrooms by Melissa Wehler, PhD
- Taking the Class Temperature: Cognitive and Affective Feedback by Christina Moore and Daniel Arnold, PhD
- 7 Ways to Make Better Quizzes for Your Course by Laura Lynch
- A Learning Ecosystem Model blogpost by SproudLab
- Myths and Facts About Flipped Learning by Robert Talbert
- Six Classroom Elements Learned from Zombie Films by Vincent Genareo, PhD
- Using Metacognition to Reframe our Thinking about Learning Styles by Hillary H. Steiner, PhD, and Stephanie M. Foote, PhD
- Four Types of Group Work Activities to Engage Students by Lynne N. Kennette, PhD, and Wes Hanzuk
- Building Rapport: Moving Beyond Teacher Characteristics to Actions that Promote Learning by Maryellen Weimer, PhD
- 3 Strategies for Overcoming Faculty Resistance to Active Learning Techniques by Kathy Jackson and Dena Novak
- How Giving Students Feedback Through Video Instead of Text Can Foster Better Understanding by Daisy Yuhas, KQED News.
- Designing for Learning: Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online, Quick Guide for New Online faculty by J. V. Boettcher, Ph.D.
- OER and Affordable-Textbook Labeling Gains Ground by Mark Lieberman
- OER: Bigger Than Affordability by Robin DeRosa. Open education resources can catalyze a much-needed national conversation about what we mean by “public” higher education.
- Unlocking the Promise of Digital Assessment by Stacey Newbern Dammann, EdD, and Josh DeSantis
- Pause, Play, Repeat: Using Pause Procedure in Online Microlectures by Judith Dutill, MA, and Melissa Wehler, PhD. Tips and techniques on how to make video lectures engaging and promote learning.
- Teaching With Technologies by Jean Dimeo. Why and how instructors should employ digital tools to effectively engage students in face-to-face and online courses
- Forum Quality or Quantity: What is Driving Student Engagement Online? by Cassandra S. Shaw and Kathleen C. Irwin
- Common Challenges for Instructors in Large Online Courses: Strategies to Mitigate Student and Instructor Frustration by Beth A. Trammell & Chera LaForge, Indiana University – East
- ADA Compliance for Online Course Design by Sheryl Burgstahler, Director of Accessible Technology Services University of Washington
- Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning: The Quest for Authenticity by Nicole Schmidt, PhD
- 7 Strategies to Make Your Online Teaching Better blog post by a PhD Candidate in 2012; an oldie but goodie!
- 8 Tips To Build An Online Learning Community by Christoforos Pappas