In my opinion, online teachers should learn the following 23 things in order to deliver the best possible course:
1.) How to create an effective syllabus. The course syllabus should include (but not limited to) course information, instructor information, policies and procedures, discussion forum policy, grading policy, etc.
2.) How to create effective discussion forums suitable for the course level.
3.) How to assess student learning in an online environment.
4.) The pros and cons of using social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) in online courses.
5.) Pros and cons of using social bookmarking (such as Diigo) in online courses.
6.) Benefits of using blogs or wikis in online courses. Free blogs can be set up at
7.) Potential use of polling in online courses. Free polls can be set up at https://www.polleverywhere.com/signup.
8.) Using synchronous vs. asynchronous tools in online courses. The following website provides a list of synchronous and asynchronous activities that can be used in online classes:
9.) Benefits of using texting as a tool in online learning. Instructors need to decide whether or not they feel comfortable giving their cell number to students.
10.) Use of pre-made content for online courses. Many publishers already have content made that can be integrated into online courses. Examples for science courses are Mastering Chemistry and Mastering Physics. MyMathLab can be used for math courses.
11.) If using videos, how to embed them into online courses. Instructors need to be sure that all links to videos are appropriate.
12.) Use of podcasts or guest lectures for online courses.
13.) Use of technology tools to create original content. Original content for online courses may be created using tools such as Prezi, Jing, Camtasia, and Tegrity Lecture Capture.
14.) How to minimize cheating and plagiarism in online courses. Tools such as SafeAssign could be used to detect plagiarism. Cheating/plagiarism policies must be present in the syllabus and enforced throughout the semester.
15.) How to create surveys. Surveys can be used for module reflections. SurveyMonkey is a great tool for this.
16.) Online teachers need to learn about how to use the specific LMS on which their course is being run. Colleges should offer trainings on this. For example, we use Blackboard, and trainings are offered so instructors know how to use it and what can be done with it.
17.) How to incorporate group work into online courses. Group work can potentially be used to complete various course assignments.
18.) Time management: I feel it is important for online instructors to have good time management skills so they are able to respond to students’ inquiries within a reasonable time period, grade assignments, and participate in course discussions, as needed.
19.) How to use copyrighted material. Instructors need to know what can and cannot be included in a course without prior written consent.
20.) How to create appropriate learning objectives for the specific online course.
21.) How to best motivate students in online courses. I feel this is critical for instructors to learn in order to help ensure student retention and success. Tips for student motivation in online courses can be found at:
22.) How to create authentic assignments in online courses. By definition, these types of assignments allow students to demonstrate how course outcomes can be applied to their everyday lives. I feel these types of assignments are critical to include in online courses because students can then see why (and how) what they are learning is important.
23.) Pros and cons of including a course-specific orientation.