Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Discover strategies for teaching online

A few essential strategies

Although quality course design is the foundation of an excellent learning experience for students, what happens during the actual instructional delivery is crucial as well.  Here are some of the most effective strategies for teaching online:

  1. Be actively present in the course, accessing the course 5 days/week, interacting with students and responding to questions within 24 hours during the week.  If you will not be responding to email over the weekend, make it clear that you will answer such questions on Monday.  The News Item area within Desire2Learn is one good way to keep students informed on a weekly basis.
  2. You may hold virtual office hours using web conferencing tools like Zoom.  This practice is encouraged as an opportunity for students to interact with the instructor and with each other.
  3. Be clear about how you will participate in discussions.  As a best practice, the instructor should read all student posts and offer an occasional follow-up post in order to enrich the conversation and drive it to a deeper level.  Depending on the subject area, instructors sometimes prefer to stay out of the immediate conversation and offer global feedback to the class.
  4. Offer frequent assessment with timely feedback to make students aware of their progress in learning the material and to keep them actively engaged in the course. Feedback on assignments and assessments should be clear, timely, constructive, and appropriately detailed for the given subject.  The meaning of “timely” may vary according to the complexity of the assignment and the feedback required.  Within 2 business days after the due date is an appropriate amount of time for many assignments, though detailed feedback on longer writing assignments may take longer.  In any case, the expectations stated within the syllabus should be met.
  5. Monitor and support learner performance in order to enable student success.  Actively monitor assignment submissions, communicate frequently, and remind students of upcoming and missed deadlines.
  6. Identify and establish relationships with institutional support services to ensure a quality online experience for both instructor and student.  Pay close attention to messages sent by Online Learning, Technology Support Services, and Student Services, since these often contain information about course maintenance, system problems, enrollment and grades.
  7. Use institutionally supported communications systems for all course related student interaction, e.g. use the email within Desire2Learn.
  8. Have a back-up plan for communicating with students and providing essential content in the case of extended server down time.  Be sure to save a copy of your course on your local computer.

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