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Online Teaching Practices

Online Course design and quality has a significant impact on student success in either an online course or an LMS-enhanced course. The following eight indicators are recommend guidelines when designing or reviewing a course.

1. Design

The course’s design should include the following:

  • Specific and measurable learning objectives
  • Alignment to assessments and learning activities
  • Authentic real-world experiences

2. Organization

  • Easy to navigate
  • Logical and consistent format
  • Alignment between topics and subtopics
  • Manageable sections

Organization Examples

  • Course is organized with sequential modules.
  • Lecture items are appropriately chunked
  • Activity items are included in module
  • Students do not have to navigate to menus in order to complete activities
  • Capstone/Group project items are included in “weekly” modules

Folio Organization Example

3. Clarity/Context

  • Manage student expectations
  • Provide orientation to the course
  • Illustrate alignment of objectives, assessments, and activities
  • Clear instructions and directions
  • Description of grading and assessment plan

Clarity/Context Examples

  • Instructions are written in sequential order using numbered list format rather than paragraph format.
  • Rubrics are included when applicable.
  • Headings are properly used.
  • Instructions appear on OR are linked in activity’s description.

Folio Clarity Example

4. Accessibility

  • Reduce barriers to students by following accessibility guidelines for video captions, image alt-text, and screen-reader friendliness in materials

Accessibility Examples

  • Videos are properly captioned with high accuracy, capitalization, punctuation.
  • No accessibility Errors appear using Folio’s accessibility checker.
  • No objective accessibility Warnings appear when using Foio’s accessibility checker. (contrast, list items).
  • Few subjective accessibility Warnings appear when using Folio’s accessibility checker.

5. Instructor-Interaction

  • Express interest in student learning
  • Actively participate in online discussions
  • Facilitate learning and peer interaction
  • Expand students’ thoughts and knowledge provide new prompts and additional content
  • Provide timely and detailed feedback on assessments and student inquiries

Instructor-Interaction Examples

  • Weekly overview videos
  • Instructor-created lectured videos
  • Facilitates discussion posts with replies
  • Completes grading within a timeframe to allow students to reflect on feedback prior to next major assessment.

6. Peer-Interaction

  • Facilitate active learning through frequent and online peer involvement and meaningful collaborative work
  • Provide opportunities and technologies available for students to learn from each other

Peer-Interaction Examples

  • Provides discussion assignments
  • Encourages peer responses in Q&A areas.
  • Uses Peer-to-peer tools such as Perusall
  • Creates group or team projects that utilize collaborative tools such as Google Docs, Jamboard or Padlet.

7. Content Interaction

  • Strategically enhance the student interaction with accessible and interactive content
  • Support dialogue, critical reflection and analysis, and real-world applications of the content
  • Provide materials that are current, rich, and sufficient in breadth and depth
  • Identify important topics and provide context

8. Richness

Provide richness in learning materials and activities, support and instructions, instructor interactions, and tools and media.

Richness Examples

  • Content Videos
  • Relevant images
  • Interactive tools such as Perusall, YuJa, Nearpod, Padlet, or Thinglink.

Adapted from the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee,

Last updated: 9/21/2023