Child pages
  • Excellence in Online Instruction - Top 10 Tips
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

A faculty development session on best practices in online instruction.

Title: Excellence in Online Instruction - Top 10 Tips

Presenters:            Dr. Deborah Adelman and Clark Shah-Nelson

Presentation description: This in-service will help novice and experienced instructors reach excellence in online instruction. The presentation focuses on 10 key areas for successful online instruction and tabletop assignments will focus on individual participant's courses. Attendees will take away ideas for both enhancing the structure of their courses, as well as for managing the course during the term. It will incorporate some of the research and ideas of the Quality Matters rubric for online courses in addition to the experiences of Delhi's online faculty members.

Course Objectives:

At the end of the session, participants will:

  1. Identify 5 components necessary for a successful online course
  2. Analyze ways to engage students in the online platform
  3. Ensure ADA compliance
  4. Describe 5 ways to use technology in the online class to maximize efficiency and communication
  5. Identify key elements for effective online course management

Session Outline:






1. Introductions and outline of workshop



Identify 5 components necessary for a successful online course

2. The 5 Components for Successful Online Courses# Start with excellent, measurable learning objectives and build the course and assessments to be congruent with them.

  1. Communicate all expectations regarding time, quality (rubrics), interactivity, for all (including instructor)
  2. Active instructor, active learners: engage
  3. All grading policies clear, maintain gradebook regularly
  4. Build community via presence: social, cognitive and teaching presence

 Quality Matters Rubric,
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. pdf Full Text. Retrieved from:


Analyze ways to engage students in the online platform

3. Creating a learning community online:
* Adult learners need to construct meaning from the course or they won't engage.* Authentic tasks must be assigned that have application to the students' real world.* Encourage alternative views.

  • Validate all learner posts in some way before challenging or asking for more insight.
  • Set clear guidelines about what isn't allowed.  Like the 10 Commandments, using negatives will not restrict the positives learners can use.
  • Provide early and repeated feedback.
  • Build on previous learning, experience, knowledge, and discussions, showing how links exist at all levels.
  • Use real-world scenarios learners can identify with.
  • Be open in your communications.
  • Faculty must participate in the DQs, both as role models and to give of self to the learners.
  • Encourage student:student and student:instructor communication
  • Have high expectations

Adelman, D. S., Levitt, C., & Legg, T. (2006). Fostering scholarly inquiry in the online graduate classroom [CIS:Abstract]. Proceedings of the Business and Health Administration Association, USA, 376.

Holly, C., Legg, T. J., & Adelman, D. S. (2008). Online teaching: Challenges for a new faculty role. Journal of Professional Nursing, 24(4), 254-258.

Legg, T. J., Adelman, D. S., Mueller, D., & Levitt, C. (2009). Constructivist strategies in online distance education in nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 48(2), 64-69.

Vesely, P., Bloom, L, & Sherlock, J. (2007). Key elements of building online community: Comparing faculty and student perceptions. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(3), 234-246. Retrieved from


Ensure ADA compliance

ADA content that needs to be in a course:

* Clear description of institution-specific student support services and how to access them (including email addresses and phone numbers for key personnel)* Link to the student support website, along with a listing and definition of student support services* Guidance on when and how students should access a particular support service

  • Have learners post about themselves to introduce self to class

Quality Matters Rubric


Describe 5 ways to use technology in the online class to maximize efficiency and communication

  1. Set up forums for specific communication purposes
  2. Post online office hours and contact info on course home page
  3. Be available via various means (phone, IM, forum, email, Skype, etc.)
  4. Make important information have an associated grade (syllabus quiz, etc.)



Identify key elements for effective online course management

  1. Know your LMS and what capabilities it has
  2. Less is more: Don't use every bell and whistle
  3. Be consistent
  4. Create, use, and follow grading rubrics
  5. Have expectations spelled out in detail
  6. Have attendance policy clearly established and monitor learning attendance, communicating with the learner ASAP when a deficiency is noticed
  7. Write in a personable, but professional manner when posting and when giving feedback
  8. Use the sandwich method of providing feedback: say something positive, give the negatives, end on something positive

Ragan, L. (2009). Online course management: Overcoming the challenges of "anytime" learning. Retrieved from



J. Erickson               J. Howard
J. Tessier                 A.Tatnall
D. Davis                  A. Metnick
J. Lees                    C. Elston
B. Williams              S. Chittum
P. May                     R. Golding
B. Burke