Our knowledge about what works well in online teaching and learning has grown rapidly over the last 20 years and that is very good news. Yet it also means that it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

Here are top best practices for anyone just getting started in the online environment. Research and experience suggest that these practices contribute to an effective, efficient and satisfying teaching and learning experience for both faculty and students.

Rely on the Cohort Model

In an environment like this, the Cohort Model works best, to enable progress. The Cohort Model creates a community of shared interest and practice. Research shows that the students do best when they know from and rely on each other.

Contacting the Faculty Member Frequently Makes a Difference

‘Remove the desk’, i.e., being accessible is extremely important for the learner’s success. The faculty-student relationship plays a major role even in online learning and teaching. In fact, this relationship must be humanized and fostered especially if it is online.

A Seamless Course Design Plays a Pivotal Role

Design the course keeping in mind the different learning capabilities and diversity of the class. Scheduling a zoom session on a particular day of the week for topic presentations post a walkthrough and thorough research of a said topic has proved to be effective.

Elevator Speeches and Nutshell Essays can be Effective Techniques

Talking Points, Nutshell Essays and Elevator Speeches works well in effective communication and leadership courses. It has a trickle-down effect and makes the foundation stone of a concept clear.

Focus on ‘Active Learning’

A mixed spurt of collaboration, discussion, audio and video clips, hands-on-exercise with texts and brief video lectures. These form the fundamentals of an active learning and a mix of all creates a tangible learning environment.

Being Mentally & Physically Present Makes a Difference

This one is a no-brainer. Ideally some faculty members are a ‘guide on the side’. But faculty members are nothing less than coaches. Therefore, being mentally present, paying attention and being fully engaged are the most important practices that a teacher or a trainer could embrace.

Research shows that the “sage on the stage” is best when blended as the “guide on the side.” An effective guide on the side makes a measurable, positive difference in student engagement, attention, learning and satisfaction. Perfecting the “guide on side” techniques is one of the features that is more prominent and necessary for effective progress in online courses. While the content may be the same, the methodology in online and face-to-face classroom classes is significantly different.

We have much to learn about teaching and learning and specifically about teaching online. The good news is that in 2020 we now know much more than what we did in 1990 or even 2015. The list of references that follow are starting points for both general teaching and for teaching online.