9 Ways to Improve Your Online Instruction

This article is based off of the course Teaching Online and Hybrid created by STARLINK Training Network, an agency of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, and available on Atomic Learning.

Whether you are a novice just starting out or an experienced online instructor looking to enhance your skills, these nine suggestions may help you to improve your online instruction.

Let’s jump right in:

  1. Identify your Teaching Style
    When it comes to teaching, try to figure out what you do best and what you feel most passionate about in a face-to-face environment. You can then try to adapt that into an online course.
  2. Know Your LMS (Learning Management System)
    Whether your campus uses Blackboard, Brightspace, Canvas or others, get comfortable with the learning management system you have access to. Knowing what your LMS is capable of and what you can do with it can help make the most of your time.
  3. Utilize a Mentor
    Find a fellow faculty member that is already familiar with creating courses online. They may be able to give you tips and tricks that they learned along the way, as well as ideas on how to get started or improve your current courses. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time.
  4. Be Consistent
    Ensure your online course covers all of the same learning objectives that would be covered in a face-to-face course. Meaning, some of your projects or assignments may have to be adjusted. If you would, in a face-to-face setting, typically have students watch a video and encourage open discussion afterword’s, use that same method by posting a video and starting a discussion thread online to better emulate the face-to-face environment.
  5. Create a Welcoming Online Environment
    Consider using message boards, discussion threads, and instructor news areas to help students feel welcome and comfortable in your course. When developing your course, ensure that course materials are easy to find and easy to access to help students navigate the course successfully.
  6. Convey Expectations
    Be sure to clearly define your expectations to your students, beyond a list of “do this, this, and this.” Try outlining them in a way that explains how to be successful in the course. Encouraging time management and critical reading can help limit distractions, which can be common issue for students in the online setting.

  7. Have a Strong Course Design
    The design of your online or hybrid course can really be the “make or break” factor that determines the success or failure of your course and your students.  It’s important to include ways for students to engage with the content and each other, as well as provide clear and easy to follow navigation.
  8. Allow for Different Types of Content
    It’s key for instructors to utilize a variety of different content formats whenever possible. Some students learn well from video content and visual materials, while others may not. Providing a variety throughout your course will help to better connect and interact with the different learning styles of your students.
  9. Utilize Professional Development Resources
    There are a ton of ways to gain professional development when it comes creating online and hybrid courses. Reaching out to other educators that are already teaching online courses is a great place to start. Atomic Learning may also be an option for you, and our online resources are designed to get on your feet and running with online courses. See a few examples below:

Online Teaching Strategies
  - Teaching Online: The Basics
  - Teaching Online and Hybrid Courses
  - Creating Engaging Lessons Online
  - Effective Online Discussions

Getting to Know Your LMS
  - Blackboard Training for Instructors
  - Canvas Training for Instructors
  - Brightspace Training for Instructors



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