Best Practices in Online Teaching-K. Captain

I see a lot of similarities in the  best practices for online teaching and best practices for face-to-face instructions.   Things like maintaining a presence in the classroom, facilitating communication between students and between student and teacher, using differentiated instruction to meet the needs of more (all) students.  I could name a lot more.  The similarities are there because online instruction and face-to-face classes have the same basic goal-get the content to the student in as many ways as possible so that they can master the subject matter and demonstrate that mastery.  The main difference is the emphasis on knowledge of and use of technology.  I do believe that a majority of teachers are incorporating technology into their face-to-face classes in many ways, but with online instruction, its impossible to deliver the content without it.

I went back over both documents and I was unable to really pinpoint any best practice that I found to be invalid.  I would certainly prioritize some as more important.  For example, understanding the learning style of your students.  Or, establishing a presence in the course in order to motivate students and also hold them accountable.  Also, having extensive knowledge of the content area being taught.  Others I wouldn’t call invalid, but I felt like they were simply best teaching practices overall and I didn’t necessary think it was needed to label them specifically for online learning.  Like, going the extra mile to support student learning-that’s just called doing your job as an educator.  Another best practice I did not see the validity in listing was making sure course content is accurate and relevant.  Sorry to sound unprofessional here-but, duh!  Thinking more about this, it makes me wonder if the authors were just trying to lengthen their list by stating the obvious?  Or maybe I should cut them some slack and they were just being thorough…and I should just remind everyone that I’m not a classroom teacher so feel free to call me out if I am off base here.

When I read the article, I did not see the best practice of parent communication included; however, the NEA’s guide to online teaching did include this.  I feel this is needed, just like in a traditional classroom, to keep parents informed of the expectations for the class, progress throughout the class, and any issues or concerns that might come up.  The messages I see the most for our online students are regarding pacing.  This seems to be a concern for a lot of first time online students as they are learning how to manage the online class with their other classes.  Without a teacher in person holding them accountable, I often see students taking advantage of the flexibility of the online environment and getting off pace in the class.

I feel like both resources provided a pretty conclusive list of best practices.  I would like to see more replications of the study done in 2008 with larger sample sizes in varying areas to see how the results differ.  I would also be interested in more information on hybrid courses as I feel like these incorporate the best of both worlds.  Some student feedback in both of these areas would be relevant.




2 thoughts on “Best Practices in Online Teaching-K. Captain

  1. I enjoyed reading your comments and thoughts. I read through all of the blogs and found it interesting that you were the only one to touch on parent input! I too, was questioning it as I was reading. What are the parents’ roles in virtual learning of their children? I also agree that without direct instruction or accountability, students (particularly high school age) could misjudge or misuse time needed to be successful in online classes and fall behind before realizing it. It would be helpful to have more current studies like the dated ones we’ve read and also learn what successful students feel is important and best practice in the virtual learning arena.

  2. The pacing issue is an ongoing frustration for me. I would really like to develop a more accurate prediction tool for students to take before starting the online class to assess their abilities to be successful in an online environment. Probably such a thing doesn’t exist. I feel like I get caught in an unproductive pattern with these students who are behind on pacing because I get the notices, I call them and talk to them about ways to get on pace and then the next interim rolls around and I get the same notice and we do it all over again. I know their online proctor is talking to them as well, but I think I’m also going to start sharing notices with parents right away to attempt to get them more involved.

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