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Online Teaching Strategies

Teaching a Hybrid Course?

Planning a hybrid course can seem like a daunting task, especially as you work to determine “what goes where?” in your course. Our hybrid starter guide has been designed to provide you with quick tips, resources, and ideas for designing a hybrid course. (Note: UNCW account is required to access the course)

Resources: Online Teaching Strategies

Course objectives make broad statements about what students will know and be able to do by the end of the course. Module or unit learning objectives help to guide the selection and development of specific instructional materials, assessments, and activities. They serve as a roadmap for instructors to design a learning experience that is relevant, engaging, and aligned with the overall goals of the course. 

Course alignment refers to the process of ensuring that all the components of a course, such as the assessments, learning activities, and instructional materials, are aligned with each other and with the course-level objectives. Course alignment ensures that everything in the course is working together towards the same result. 

A clear and easy-to-navigate online course structure is key to creating an effective and engaging online course. Providing a consistent structure helps learners focus, saves time, reduces cognitive load, enhances user experience, and promotes accessibility for all learners. 

Designing an online course that is accessible is key to providing a learning environment that meets the needs of all learners. Working toward more accessible content improves the learning experience for everyone, increases engagement and retention, and demonstrates a commitment to creating a more inclusive and welcoming learning community.  

The Distance Education and eLearning team are always available to provide support as you navigate accessibility within your online or hybrid course. You can use our online Booking Tool to schedule an appointment at your convenience. 

Resources: Course Facilitation

Engagement of all types (student to student, student to teacher and teacher to student) is critical to students’ perception of an online class and to their performance.  You might want to consider the following facilitation strategies to build engagement in your online course: 

  • Feedback – Specific, clear, balanced, frequent and timely are all attributes of the kind of feedback that will help build engagement in an online course.   
  • Rise Model – A process to structure and facilitate the giving and receiving of meaningful feedback.  
  • Netiquette – Expectations related to civility and other communication-related issues should be shared with students from the beginning of the course.   
  • Netiquette Guidelines – DEeL's best practices for postings.  
  • Policies – course and institutional – Communicating course and institutional policies is relevant and necessary in all courses so that students have the opportunity to learn about expectations of the professor as well as university-level expectations and guidelines. 
  • How to Include Policies in your UNCW Start Here Module – How to find pertinent policies and include them in your Canvas course. 
  • Communication – Although the aforementioned types of engagement include aspects of communication, the importance of communication overall merits its own bullet.   
  • Overview: Facilitator Skills 1.5 - Strategies for participating more fully in the online class as an instructor.

Online instructors show empathy and a commitment to meet learners where they are by putting themselves in the position of students.  This enables the instructor to experience the course, navigation and content, instructional materials, activities and assessments.

  • Accessibility provides adapted instructional materials to meet the needs of students.
  • Encourage engagement in an online course, the concept of “being present” is underscored by how frequently the instructor checks into the course, returns emails and messages, and provides feedback including grading.  Being a present facilitator also includes monitoring students’ course activities and participation and stepping in to encourage those areas that may be lagging.  
  • Provide feedback via various formats.
  • Allowing students choice of assessment (when appropriate) and encouraging them to incorporate their own personal experiences when relevant are just two ways a facilitator can demonstrate a commitment to a learner-centered approach and the value of metacognition. 

The teacher who has built a learning environment where students ultimately teach themselves (where students have learned how to learn) is a most effective facilitator.   

  • Pacing - Model and offer strategies for managing the course workload. 
  • Growth mindset – Approach students with a growth mindset and encourage them to adopt a growth mindset in your course as well. 
  • Continuous improvement – conduct course evaluations while it is running.  Conduct frequent student evaluations of the course. Reflect on the efficacy of the course.  Make changes as necessary, and review again. 

Resources: Community Building

Establishing yourself as a authentic participant is your online course matters to your students. Social presence, or the feeling of interacting with a ‘real’ person, is an important concept for building a sense of community and belonging in the online space.  

Even though online learners are not in a traditional face-to-face setting, instructors should still create safe spaces for students to collaborate, ask questions, and share their opinions. Positive instructor-student and student-student interactions can help foster a sense of community by allowing students to feel ‘seen’ and supported by both their instructor and peers.  

  • 9 Strategies to Promote Collaborative Online Learning – This article from the University of Florida provides a list of strategies that online instructors can use to create safe, respectful, and purposeful collaboration spaces.  
  • DEeL’s Tutorial Portal (DTP) – This tutorial portal provides support resources for instructional technology, including collaborative tools such as VoiceThread, Canvas Discussion Boards, and Web 2.0 Tools.  

Research has shown that instructor-student interactions that occur outside of planned course activities can help build a sense of community as students are able to connect with their instructor in a more personalized way.  


Meet With DEeL

The Office of Distance Education and eLearning (DEeL) is here to help you with all of your online and web-enhanced course design and delivery needs.