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Tips and tricks for teaching online



This paper summarizes some of the best ideas and practices gathered from successful online instructors and recent literature. Suggestions include good online class design, syllabus development, and online class facilitation offering hints for success for both new and experienced online instructors.
Oct 2004 Index Home Page
Editor’s Note: Effective online learning requires careful preparation, design, implementation, and follow-up. This article
combines best practices from a variety of resources – research studies, publications, and discussions among online
instructors. The analogy of a garden is used to reinforce practices that will ensure a successful “harvest!”
Tips and Tricks for Teaching Online:
How to Teach Like a Pro!
Kaye Shelton and George Saltsman
This paper summarizes some of the best ideas and practices gathered
from successful online instructors and recent literature. Suggestions
include good online class design, syllabus development, and online class
facilitation offering hints for success for both new and experienced online
Keywords: online education, distance education, online teaching, online instructor, online faculty
Teaching Online
Teaching online is a little like gardening. Like plants, students need a
healthy and fertile environment if they are going to mature and thrive in
their online courses. It takes planning, preparation, hard work, and
enough knowledge to know what to do (and what not to do) for your
labor to yield an abundant harvest. Online instruction is new to many
instructors in higher education, and for good reason. In just a few years,
it has grown from an academic experiment to a recognized alternative to
traditional classroom learning. In fact, even traditional classes have
embraced many of the teaching methods popularized by online
Because this instructional methodology is relatively new, many online
instructors feel a bit like a novice gardener. They understand the basic
concepts, but are eager to discover new tips or tricks from their
colleagues. If two or more online instructors are together in a social
situation, discussion will shift to war stories and proudly offered pieces of
advice. This paper offers many of those tips and tricks,
athered not from
the Sunday afternoon
arden club, but from conversations and interviews
with online instructors, current literature, conferences, email and
listservs, along with personal experiences.
online shares similarities to teachin
in the classroom; however,
even the best traditional instructors may still find that teaching in an
online environment can lead to feelings of inadequacy and being ill-
prepared. Providing training and tools for ePedagogy is a way to build
confidence and create successful outcomes in the online classroom. Even
Page 1 of 14oct04_04
experienced online instructors can
lean helpful and timesavin
from tips shared by other instructors.
VanSickle (2003) recognized that a new online instructor should
understand how the Internet has changed student expectations. These
student expectations, described by Lansdell (2001), include increased
levels of feedback, increased attention, and additional resources to help
them learn (VanSickle, 2003). In response to meeting these
expectations, alternative methods of instruction and class facilitation
have evolved to support student cohesiveness and encourage learning.
To successfully challenge the online student, increased communication is
required between instructor and student (White, 2000).
Multiple methods for online instruction are utilized throughout academe.
One method, described as the online learning community, has become
preeminent in online instruction. Boettcher and Conrad (1999) define an
online learning community as a community that “consists of learners who
support and assist each other, make decisions synergistically, and
communicate with peers on a variety of topics beyond those
assigned” (p. 88). For this paper, the following is assumed of the online
zThe course meets online during a regularly defined semester or quarter.
zThe course is broken up into learning modules or content chunks.
zStudent participation is required within a set time period – each content
module is presented with a given start and end time.
zLearning takes place as students synthesize the prepared material and
interact in class discussions with peers and the instructor(s).
Four stages are necessary for successful gardening and four stages are
necessary for successful online teaching. A good gardener will prepare
the soil for planting early; sow the seed; nurture the seedling to
maturity, then harvest the crop reflectin
on a productive season. A
online instructor will follow the same basic path: develop and structure
the learning environment, introduce the material, encourage academic
and intellectual growth, and finally, evaluate the effectiveness as he/she
watches the students depart with an understanding and appreciation of
the subject that will hopefully remain with them for a lifetime.
Preparing the Soil—Develop and Structure the Learning Environment
The first step in online instruction occurs long before the seeds are
planted. As Brewer, DeJonge, and Stout (2001) suggest, it takes
significant planning and preparation. The design of an online course “can
either facilitate or impede the learning process” (p. 12). Much of this
groundwork centers on designing the course syllabus. Preparation of the
syllabus enriches the soil, providing a fertile and prepared environment
for learning to occur.
Within the syllabus, student expectations should be clearly defined along
well-written directions relatin
to course activities. Ko and Rossen (2004)
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relate the syllabus to a course contract and observe that new online
instructors do not include enough information in their syllabi. These
expectations should be stated in the opening orientation material as well
as in the course syllabus. Preparation includes clear definitions of the
following within the syllabus: contact methods, course objectives,
attendance requirements, late work policies, the course schedule,
orientation aids, grading scales and rubrics, communication practices,
and technology policies.
Contact Information
The syllabus should include administrative items such as office times,
contact information, and preferred modes of contacts. However, unlike a
traditional course, instructors should be very clear about “online office
hours” or hours of unavailability. For instance, if church attendance on
Sunday mornings occurs regularly, it would be appropriate to inform the
students in the syllabus of the offline time on Sunday mornings.
Boettcher and Conrad (1999) suggest an online instructor not be
available twenty-four hours a day to the student but establish a
framework for turnaround response. This framework should offer
recommendations for how long a student should expect to wait before
repeating an email request that has gone unanswered. Jarmon (1999)
also states that instructors should set expectations for the students
regarding response time and let the students know how quickly to expect
a response.
If there is a specific times when the instructor will be online, he/she
should include a “fastback” time or online office hours. A fastback time is
a time period when students can expect a quicker than normal email
response, usually within the hour or soon after the message is received.
Many instructors offer online office hours where they enter the class chat
room and wait for questions. It is often reported by instructors that
students underutilize this time, choosing to send email as their questions
arise, rather than waiting until a prescribed time in the future.
An alternative to the usin
virtual office hour time for academic questions
is to use the time for social conversation. A virtual social experience helps
create a closer bond with instructor and classmates, furthering the
strength of the learning community. This is a form of the “cyber sandbox”
described by Palloff and Pratt (1999). The cyber sandbox is defined as a
generic discussion or bulletin board area for students to just hang out
and talk about movies or jobs or whatever their interests are. The
creation of a social outlet not only helps to keep regular class discussion
areas on topic, but Palloff and Pratt (1999) observed that “the sharing of
our lives, including our travels, our observations, our emotions, and who
we are as people is deliberately brou
ht into the classroom in an effort to
promote group cohesion and connection” (p. 78).
Course Objectives
Well-defined course objectives are an important element in any course
syllabus. Clearly stated objectives are even more important in online
courses as students do not have the opportunity to participate in the
opening day syllabus discussions so common in many traditional courses
(Jarmon, 1999). The communication of course objectives is also
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important because in an online course, much of the responsibility for
learning is placed upon the student. Failure to properly inform the
student of the course objectives leaves them feeling confused and
puzzled about where each assignment, and moreover, the entire course
is headed.
Attendance Requirements
Attendance requirements should be clearly stated, as attendance is
necessary for courses that utilize online learnin
communities. Palloff and
Pratt (2001) advise, “If clear guidelines are not presented, students can
become confused and disorganized and the learning process will
suffer” (p. 28). The online learning community requires students to take
active roles in helping each other learn (Boettcher & Conrad, 1999).
Students who do not participate not only cheat themselves but also those
in their learning community.
Participation requirements must be defined for an online course. Ko and
Rossen (2004) recognize “if students aren’t graded, the majority won’t
actively participate” (p. 67). Some students think that if they take an
online course, they can take a vacation and still catch up with their
coursework upon their return or do a few modules ahead of time before
they leave. While online courses do allow for flexibility, students must
participate. If instructors want good participation, the participation
requirements must be clearly defined. Students may ask if they can post
ahead of the other students or take the course on a self-paced schedule.
Because of the prevalence of this question, online instructors should have
a policy regarding early posting and state it clearly in the syllabus.
Participation in online courses is inherently different from traditional
courses. Students do not automatically understand how to participate in
online courses. Course assignments and participation requirements
should be defined in the syllabus and with each assignment. Where
possible, assignments should be grouped into familiar categories such as
class discussion, web searches, quizzes, reading assignments, etc. You
may identify each type of assignment with icons. Creating a sample
discussion or model may increase students’ understanding of the
participation requirement and how credit is assigned.
Late Work Policy
The instructor should create a policy for late assignment submissions and
missed exams. Again, students who are not actively participating in the
learning community are not assisting other students. Because of this
interdependence, some instructors have a “no late work accepted policy,”
while others assi
n reduced credit. Another option is to create alternative
assignments or exams for past due work or tests. To facilitate course
management, these alternative assignments could be offered at the end
of the course for those who missed assignments during the normal time
Course Schedule
One of the most important elements of an online course syllabus is the
course schedule. The course schedule should list each module with
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dates and due dates, assi
ned readin
, assessment, and other
activities. The course schedule becomes the map for the student and
should be placed in the course syllabus, inside the course material, and
redundantly throughout the course. In fact, Ko and Rossen (2004)
recommend, “In an online environment, redundancy is often better than
elegant succinctness” (p.76). If the website or course management
system allows linking from the syllabus, then link each module of course
content to the course schedule making it readily available to the student.
Instructors should provide the course schedule in a printable format
along with a digital format. Students should be encouraged to print out
and follow their course schedules.
Along with the course schedule, each learning module should contain a
checklist to facilitate management and completion by the student. This
should be print ready so that students can print and read them offline.
Course content that presents an easy to find and understandable
assignment checklist will save numerous emails from students inquiring
about due dates and making pleas for deadline extensions.
Orientation Aids
An orientation note or hints for success for the student should be written
and available for the student (Jarmon, 1999). This may include hints for
time management and good study practice. Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ) support self-help in answering questions (Jarmon, 1999). This
allows the students to look for information before emailing the instructor.
Over time, as questions are and answers are provided, a comprehensive
FAQ will emerge. McCormack and Jones (1999) suggest the FAQ page
can “reduce the number of questions at the start of the semester” (p. 2)
and throughout the duration of the course. If a chat room is used for
virtual office hours, relevant questions should be added to the course
Grading Scales/Rubrics
Grading scales and rubrics should be defined for each assignment. If the
courseware mana
ement system allows, each assi
nment could be linked
to the rubric for clarity. When group assignments are utilized, instructors
should use a grading rubric for the students to grade each other
individually as well as the entire group. This motivates students to
participate and provides for equity in grading of group work. It is also
helpful if the instructor assigns groups or teams the first time. The class
should get to know each other before group self-selection is allowed.
Communication Practices
An inbox consistently full of email will be overwhelming to any instructor.
Therefore, it is important to include in the syllabus elements for class
uidelines for postin
to the discussion boards, email protocols,
and digital file submission procedures. Establishing email protocols and
other communication guidelines will assist the instructor in online
classroom management. Many instructors require the course session
number in the subject line so that the email related to the course can be
filtered to a separate mailbox. Students may be asked or required to use
their institutional email address so that instructors are not confused by
Page 5 of 14oct04_04
es in address mid-term or are required to deal with bounced mail
from full inboxes on students’ free email accounts.
An instructor can create individual email sub-folders for each of the
online students. Email that has been answered and or
raded can be filed
away, providing for a record of all course correspondence. Another tip for
instructors is to read their mail backwards from newest received to
oldest. In many cases, students have solved their problems so that the
earlier questions become irrelevant.
Technology Policy
A technology policy should be stated in the syllabus that directs students
to a helpdesk or resource other than the instructor for technology
problems. Additionally, instructors should encourage students to create
drafts of postings or assignments in a word processor and save them
before posting to the discussion board. This will minimize spelling and
rammar mistakes and provide a backup copy for the student in case of a
technical problem. Students should be d to save all of their work on a
computer hard drive and also to a removable device, such as a floppy
disk or USB flash drive. Saving their work to a USB drive allows the
student portability between home, office, and campus systems, and a
chance of recovery if their systems go down. They can then take their
files with them, use them on the computer of a family member or friend,
or any publicly accessible computer in an office, library, or cybercafé.
Sow the Seed – Opening the course
The second step for successful online teaching is opening the course and
the initiation of instruction. An enthusiastic and engaging opening week
of class is a great way to start the course. This time of seed germination
is a fragile period; disruptions or unnecessary interferences may set a
tone that stifles learning during the remainder of the course. It is
important to create an initial impression that will stimulate development
of the learning community and nurture the students to maturity. Open
the course by sending a welcoming email and announcement, initiating
class-wide introductions, encouraging students to read the syllabus, and
establishing a tone of excellence.
Welcome Email and Announcement
Moore, Winograd and Lange (2001) offer several tips for the first session
of class: send a welcome email that invites the students to join the class,
telephone students who don’t appear in the classroom the first week, and
duplicate your welcome email in a class announcement if the course
management system allows. The announcement should encourage
students to check their email regularly. The first week should have fewer
nments to allow students to post introductions and
et to know each
other. Technical issues should be dealt with immediately; provide
information on helpdesk support if available.
The instructor should spend time getting to know the students
individually the first week of class and encourage the students to do the
Page 6 of 14oct04_04
same. An introductory discussion invitin
the participants to introduce
themselves and to share something in particular with the group is a
successful strategy for building the learning community. The instructor
should participate heavily in this discussion (being careful not to
dominate it) and should respond to one or two things in the introductory
posting of each student. Ko and Rossen (2004) suggest the “initial
postings in the discussion forum, your first messages sent to all by email
or listserv, or the greeting you post on your course home page will do
much to set the tone and expectations for your course. These ‘first words’
can also provide models of online communication for your students” (p.
Offering an icebreaker in the first session, such as “share your silliest
moment in college” or “name the animal you most identify with,” helps to
alleviate the nervousness and provide insights to the personalities of
fellow students. Several good icebreakers that also provide an instructor
with a basic student learning inventory include the VARK learning styles
( and the Keirsey
temperament sorter ( The Kingdomality profiler
( provides not only a Medieval vocational
assessment but also is fun and generates discussion possibilities. Each of
these websites offers instant results, and the students can post their
results and a short paragraph if they agree or disagree. Countless other
sites allow students to discover their commonalities and similarities as
well and can be found with a simple Internet search.
Emphasize the Syllabus
A great hint for the first session of class is to create a syllabus quiz or
scavenger hunt that “teaches students how to navigate your
course” (Schweizer, 1999, p. 11). Then, offering bonus points to assess
syllabus comprehension is a successful way of engaging the student in
the first session of class. Encoura
students to review the syllabus in a
more thorough process can alleviate confusion later in the course as they
familiarize themselves with the course requirements.
Establish a Tone of Excellence
The first several weeks also set the tone for academic participation.
Instructors should grade discussions/assignments stringently in the first
few assignment cycles. Establish a tone of excellence early and
encourage students to do their best. “Students want to receive timely
and personal feedback” (Boettcher & Conrad, 1999, p. 97) early in an
online course. They may not be able to assess their progress as easily
online as they would in a traditional course (Boaz, 1999). It is also
helpful to remind the students of these expectations throughout the
course. It is always easier to lessen the workload later than to increase it.
Nurture the Growth – Nurturing the Learning Community
The third step of teaching online is to nurture the learning community.
The learning community must be established and then become self-
sufficient. The learning community, like a garden, must be cultivated.
This cultivation occurs when an instructor provides ample communication,
facilitates the discussion board, treats each student as an individual, adds
Page 7 of 14oct04_04
emotion and belon
, responds quickly to questions, models required
behavior, creates appropriately sized groups, and clearly outlines
expectations for group activities.
Provide Ample Communication
Online students are eager for communication. Lack of instructor-student
communication early on will create a negative learning community thus
disabling the learning process. Instructors should use class-wide
announcements, group emails, and chat archives to facilitate accessible,
public communication in the online course. As the course
rows, students
should be encoura
ed to facilitate the discussion and assume some of the
roles previously controlled by the instructor.
Communication must be both reflective and proactive. Many courses use
class-wide journals or summaries to bring closure to modules. Sending
out class-wide summation/introduction/transitional emails at the end of
each module, wrappin
up the previous content, and introducin
the next
module provide for a sense of transition. Reminding the students of
requirements for the current module, such as projects or exam dates, is
very helpful to the students. It takes about ten minutes a week for either
of these tasks, yet the benefit provided is far more valuable. Proactive
communication yields fewer questions, saving dozens of hours answering
the questions individually.
Instructors should keep their interaction with the class as open as
possible. Using the “Course Announcement” area frequently for reminders
and duplicate important information in emails will increase open
communication. It is also important to communicate to the class each
time grades are posted. This creates a “don’t call me, I’ll call you”
communication pattern for grade information. Within that
communication, remind students to contact the instructor if a grade is
missing. This puts the responsibility back with the student for finding and
submitting any missing work.
Facilitate the Discussion Board
Bischoff (2000) suggests, “The key to online education’s effectiveness lies
in large part with the facilitator” (p. 58). Likewise, for the threaded
discussion to be successful, the instructor should become a facilitator and
review the discussions without controlling them. Many online instructors
have found what many gardeners realize: at times, hands-on action
produces results but in many cases, too much activity can be as harmful
as none at all. This particular role of the facilitator in the online classroom
can be difficult for a traditional instructor to accept. A traditional
instructor may be accustomed to dominating or controlling the discussion
through lecture, but in an online class, all students have equal
opportunity to participate in the discussion and often do outside of the
instructor’s influence. It takes a good deal of time for some traditional
faculty to feel truly comfortable in allowing the discussion to take place
outside the classroom and without their intervention, but that is fine—
experience will eventually guide them.
ood discussion board facilitation, the instructor should randomly and
selectively reply to students and provide prompt explanations or further
Page 8 of 14oct04_04
comments re
the topic of discussion. The instructor or facilitator
should provide feedback in the discussion even if it is merely a
“cheerleading” comment, redirection, or guideline submission. The
instructor should intervene when the discussion seems to be stru
headed the wrong way (Palloff & Pratt, 2001) but should not over-
participate in the discussion, as this will be considered stifling and
restrictive. Some instructors prompt absentee or “lurker” students with a
gentle reminder email or a telephone call. According to Bischoff, (2000),
“A phone call may prove more timely and effective” (p. 70) in helping a
student engage in the discussion.
Many instructors assign assistant facilitators and summarizers for each
discussion session, providing opportunities for different kinds of student
involvement. Other instructors use “coaching teams” made up of students
or tutors as the first line of support, then invite the students to ask the
instructor for clarification or further assistance. Good facilitation of online
goes beyond content. Under favorable circumstances, the “discussion will
end in acceptance of different opinions, respect for well-supported
beliefs, and improved problem-solving skills” (Brewer, DeJonge, & Stout,
2001, p. 109)
Treat Each Student as an Individual
Instructors should value individual contributions and “treat their students
as unique” (White, 2000, p.11). A simple technique is to use the
students’ preferred names or nicknames in all correspondence. It is also
important to add positive emotion and visual cues. The online
environment can be limiting when the communication is mostly text-
based. Emoticons serve the same purpose as nodding a head in
agreement or offering a welcoming smile as would occur in a traditional
Add Emotion and Belonging
When online learning is facilitated incorrectly, students can feel isolated
and cheated of a valuable learning experience. This could lead to feelings
of separation and disappointment that negatively impact learning. White
(2000) advises that “a positive emotional climate can serve as a frame of
reference for online students activities and will therefore shape individual
expectancies, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors throughout a
program” (p. 7). Since there are no visual clues in the online classroom,
one suggestion for communication is to type out the emotion expressed
in parentheses (*smile*) or to include emoticons, such as :-) for
happiness or :-0 for surprise or dismay. It is also possible to describe you
body language in the email. Salmon (2002) offers this example: “When I
read your message, I jumped for joy” (p. 150). This descriptive effort
shows the students the instructor’s personality and positively stimulates
the online community. It is also beneficial, as Hiss (2000) suggests, for
online instructors to keep their sense of humor.
Respond Quickly
Time delays in a threaded discussion can be frustrating for students. This
is especially true if the response was misunderstood and the students
Page 9 of 14oct04_04
have attempted to clarify. Online instructors should try to post daily or on
a regular schedule that has been communicated the students. Some
instructors create homework discussion threads for content support,
which provides a forum for students to help each other.
Model Behavior
Instructors who engage students in collaborative groups should facilitate
development of social skills. This begins at the onset of the course when
the learning community is formed and students recognize the online
classroom as a safe place to interact. Group skills should be modeled by
the instructor and outlined in the course syllabus. For example, if a two
paragraph introduction is expected, the instructor should model that in
their own introduction to the class in the opening discussion.
Create Appropriately Sized Groups
Most students enjoy the online social interaction and find that it
encourages their learning experience. Independently minded students
find that the asynchronous nature of the course enables them to
participate more readily than in the face-to-face classroom. In creating
groups, Ko and Rossen (2004) recommend that instructors divide
students into groups instead of allowing students to pick their own
groups. Students may find it difficult to meet online and form groups
quickly. Many instructors search the introductory material to find
common elements among students to hasten the group cohesion.
Groups should not be too large or too small. The most effective group
size appears to be four students per group. Utilizing these suggestions,
the group work should begin early to promote a positive learning
experience in the online classroom. The actual process for completin
project should be outlined by the instructor, but the final outcome should
be the group’s responsibility.
Harvest—Plan For the Next Semester
The final stage of online instruction is assessment. It is a rewarding
experience to watch learning take place in the minds of students. It is
why many instructors choose relatively low pay for teaching compared to
lucrative jobs in the for-profit world. Just like gardeners in autumn,
assessment is a time of reflection and satisfaction for a job well done.
Tiny seeds sown early in the season are actively growing and producing.
At this stage, instructors should evaluate each student’s performance
against course objectives. What worked well and what needs to be
improved for next season? This can be accomplished by keepin
and by soliciting feedback on instruction and course content.
Keep a Journal
Self-examination and contemplative thought are successful approaches
for course improvement. A recommended practice is to keep a journal
that records items that should be redesigned or altered the next time the
Page 10 of 14oct04_04
course is tau
ht. The instructor should make notes of assi
nments that
worked well and those that struggled, and critically evaluate the
effectiveness of content and instruction.
Solicit Feedback on Instruction
Student feedback improves the instructor’s teaching. A good place to
gather the feedback is inside the course management system. It is
helpful to survey for student feedback during the course, not just at the
end with course evaluations. The instructor can develop a discussion
thread for students to post feedback anonymously about the course,
including possible suggestions for improvement. If a student does offer
feedback, the instructor should acknowledge the feedback and be
appreciative for the remarks.
Feedback instruments should provide the students with a way to
communicate what they like the best and the least about the instruction
of the course. If possible, mid-course changes in responses to students’
comments will allow students to feel empowered throu
h takin
an active
role in their education.
Solicit Feedback on Course Content
All online instructors should look for possible course revisions. Course
content should never stay static. Moore, Winograd, and Lange (2001)
propose that “because online course design and teaching are so new,
evaluating the effectiveness of your course and then refining it based on
the results of that evaluation become imperative” (p. 12.3). If using end-
of-course summary feedback, the instructor must receive this feedback in
time to reevaluate the course for the next semester and add suggested
changes, if necessary. Another possibility is an end-of-session discussion
regarding the focus of the next session, thus allowing for minor course
revisions even as the course continues to be taught.
Online teaching has brought a new modality to distance education. It has
also brought frustration and anxiety to the instructors attempting this
new methodology. Moore, Winograd, and Lange (2001) remark “One
faculty member who had only just finished her course online said it was
like diving into a great chasm, blindfolded” (p. 11.3). Instructors who are
comfortable with the traditional methods for teaching in the classroom
struggle to engage students over the Internet. While many of the same
techniques apply, teaching online requires additional techniques for
success. These techniques are similar to the same steps a
ardener takes
to develop a
arden. In the online classroom, the
round is prepared with
a carefully designed syllabus and policies, the seed is planted in the first
session of class, and the learning community is nurtured to grow and
become self-sufficient. These steps yield students who are engaged and
working toward completion of the learning objectives. By utilizing these
strategies for teaching online effectively, an instructor will engage the
online learner, nurture a successful learnin
community, and alleviate the
frustration and fear that goes along with teaching online.
Page 11 of 14oct04_04
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(ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED479882)
White, K. (2000). Face to face in the online classroom. In K. W. White & B. H. Weight
(Eds.), The online teaching guide (pp. 1-12). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Page 12 of 14oct04_04
About the Authors
Kaye Shelton
Director, Online Education
Dallas Baptist University
3000 Mountain Creek Parkway
Dallas, TX 75211
Phone: 214-333-5283
Kaye Shelton is the Director of Online Education
and Assistant Professor of Adult Education for
Dallas Baptist University. She was also employed
as the Instructional Program Manager for Distance
Learning at Florida Community College at
Jacksonville – Virtual College.
Ms. Shelton is a certified online instructor, teaching
online since 1999, and also practices as an online
education consultant. Her education includes a
B.A.S. in Management of Information Systems and
M.S. in Education emphasizing Online Teaching and
Learning. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in
educational computing at the University of North
She has published and presented regionally and
nationally on the subject of online education and
has served as an advisor regarding online
education programs for many peer institutions. Ms.
Shelton has trained more than 150 instructors how
to teach online successfully. She and Mr. Saltsman
are currently co-authoring a book for online
education administration.
George Saltsman
Director, Educational Technology
Abilene Christian University
Adams Center for Teaching
Excellence, ACU Box 29201,
Abilene, TX 79699
Phone: 325-674-2996
George Saltsman is the Director of Educational
Technology for the Adam’s Center of Teaching
Excellence at Abilene Christian University, and
serves as an adjunct part-time instructor for the
Department of Journalism and Mass
Communications. His education includes a B.S. in
Computer Science and a M.S. in Organizational and
Human Resource Development. He has published
and presented regionally and nationally on the
subjects of online education and educational
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Oct 2004 Index
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
This paper discusses the changes in instruction needed to make the transition to teaching an online course. It discusses both traditional and alternative teaching methods a first-time online instructor might choose to use. The advantages and disadvantages of online courses are explored through a review of the literature, and ways in which online instruction differs from traditional instruction are discussed with reference to course guidelines, student interaction, the role of the instructor, and the process of evaluation. Some alternative approaches that may be useful in online teaching are asynchronous (time independent) text-based discussion, collaboration, problem-based learning, and approaches based on the constructivist paradigm. (Contains 41 references.) (SLD)
This guide to developing and teaching an on-line course is intended to lead the instructor through the steps of course development, on-line teaching, and on-line assessment. It emphasizes principles of course design which are outcome-based, performance-assessed, and collaborative. The guide's nine chapters cover the following aspects of course development: (1) demystifying the on-line environment; (2) principles of performance-based curriculum design; (3) creating performance-based assessments; (4) planning on-line activities and resources; (5) creating on-line discussion groups; (6) being a "visible" on-line instructor; (7) technology (handling hardware and software problems); (8) designing a course evaluation instrument; principles of visual design; and (9) answers to questions by three experts in distance learning. Eight appendices provide a variety of resources, including a sample welcome letter, a list of verbs according to Bloom's taxonomy, a list of roles and responsibilities for cooperative group members, sample on-line group activity, a sample data record, and a sample course evaluation. (DB)