Teaching Online (English)

Course Information

Distance Learning Center Dept. | University Extension Sch. | University of California, Irvine
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Stefano Stefan
Director, Open and Online Education Projects
Distance Learning Center
Amanda Cushman
Manager, Instructor Development and Course Quality
Distance Learning Center
Creative Commons License
This work (Teaching Online by Stefan, Stefano; Cushman, Amanda) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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This course presents best practices for teaching online. These practices were included in UC Irvine Extension's online instructor training along with specific instructions for using Moodle 2.4. Since Extension has made a transition to the Canvas platform, the Moodle portions of the training are no longer relevant (not to mention that Moodle 2.4 is now rather outdated!), but the information about teaching online still is.

While the presentations below illustrate the concepts using a Moodle environment, the concepts are applicable to other online teaching environments, as well.

Planning Your Course

This section presents key similarities and differences between classroom-based instruction and online instruction. While the two modalities are obviously quite different, good teaching practices for face-to-face settings can often be "translated" to an online setting. 

Two specific topics are important here: using Bloom's Taxonomy to create actionable and measurable learning objectives, and determining how much content is enough to satisfy unit requirements. This latter item requires drawing some sort of equivalency between "seat time" and "online time." Obviously, "online time" is rather amorphous can vary depending on such factors as how quickly students can read and type.

Finally, the section discusses the creation of a course plan as a means of organizing one's thinking about a course and ensuring that the course maintains a continuous narrative thread throughout its duration.

Comparing Online and Classroom-Based Learning (English)
Sketching Out Your Online Course (English)
Bloom's Taxonomy (English)
Understanding Seat Time (English)
Blank Extension Course Plan (English)
Sample Course Plan (English)

Delivering Your Course

This section presents strategies for the effective facilitation of your online course. The most important part of teaching online is to be present in the course (so that students see you being active) and to engage the students. You don't necessarily need to exchange multiple emails or text messages with each individual student but you do need to demonstrate that you are actively reading and responding to their discussion forum posts and miscellaneous questions. One of the most frequent complaints we receive from students is that the instructor "disappeared" after the course started.

Best Practices for Online Facilitation (English)
Tips for Engaging Online Students (English)