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10 Things I've Learned About Teaching Online

By Michelle Everson / September 2009

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  • Mon, 22 May 2017
    Post by lissacoffey

    I began the online experience 10 YRS AGO, I also tried to transfer all of my face-to-face classroom materials to the online curriculum. I was constantly reevaluating and reworking the online materials because it didn't all transfer smoothly. It is a lot of work that many instructors are not prepared for when they begin. Authentic learning for our students (experienced teachers) means to apply theories and concepts that we read about weekly and apply them in their own classrooms and lesson plans. It is exciting to see teachers report back their results in terms of their increased effectiveness -- Thanks

  • Thu, 30 Mar 2017
    Post by Michelle Everson

    Since writing this article, a lot has changed for me. I am now at The Ohio State University, in the Department of Statistics. When I wrote this article in Minnesota, we were using WebCT, but we soon changed over to Moodle. When I got to OSU, D2L was the classroom management system, and just this past year, we switched to Canvas. I strongly believe each system has it's own pros and cons, but, like Dan, there are certain things I do really enjoy about Canvas. A big change for my online teaching is that I now have up to 200 students in a single online course! I've had to re-think how I use discussion in these courses, and, sadly, I've moved away from online discussion assignments because I've struggled to figure out ways to manage that with such a big class. I'd like to figure that out eventually.

  • Sat, 04 Mar 2017
    Post by Dan McElroy

    SJCC in California has gone from WebCT to Blackboard to Moodle and now Canvas by Instructure. Most of the community colleges (2-year) have switched to Canvas as well as many of the Universities. I was not involved in the decision to switch to Canvas but now that I am using it I am totally impressed.

  • Sun, 26 Feb 2017
    Post by Christopher S. Kayser


    Very important issues you raise about online learning. I have engaged in online learning for over 40 years, including my undergrad and Master's in Criminal Justice from Boston University.

    Many of your points, and important considerations for online students to consider, are covered in my recent book that is available on Amazon (globally), entitled, How to Master an Online Degree - A Guide to Success.

    This 60-page guide has gained immediate respect among educators in various universities, and is being introduced as required or strongly recommended reading for those considering pursuing an online degree, or for those who may be struggling with the distance education process.

    I believe your audience may find this book of value, and for yourself, it may be something that your future or current students may find makes their journey more enjoyable, successful, and will help them better understand how to communicate most effectively with those who instruct them.

    I wish you continued success as a distance education leader.

    Christopher S Kayser

  • Fri, 04 Dec 2015
    Post by Kylie Brady

    Valuable discussion - Just to add my thoughts , if you wants to merge two PDF files , my secretary found a tool here and also here

  • Tue, 30 Jun 2015
    Post by Mike

    Its amazing post. I blog often and I truly appreciate your content. The article has truly peaked my interest. Im going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. in

  • Tue, 20 Jan 2015
    Post by Sheila

    Yes, there are so many helping resources for teachers and if you dont use them you make both your lessons and your life boring. Of course, it will take time to search for something new but I realized that it is better to order some reports from and get tie for creative work that makes you happy. Teaching is not only a job where you get instructions and have to fulfill them. It is a process when you should use all your senses and really love what you do.

  • Mon, 18 Oct 2010
    Post by Henry Brzycki

    One strategy that I use to motivate students through online lesson activities, is to make their learning authentic. Authentic learning for our students (experienced teachers) means to apply theories and concepts that we read about weekly and apply them in their own classrooms and lesson plans. It is exciting to see teachers report back their results in terms of their increased effectiveness -- a joy!

  • Tue, 05 Oct 2010
    Post by Dora Renaud

    The key to successful learning is ongoing continuous formative assessment and feedback with clear expectations provided to the learner. In section #8 the author supports that the learner likes to know that they are on the right track but especially to know that the professor is there to offer scaffolds if necessary.

  • Tue, 01 Jun 2010
    Post by Nezzal

    That's right it's a great article for all teachers.

  • Fri, 12 Feb 2010
    Post by Neil Barker

    Thanks for the great tips. I'm looking at getting into online teaching in the ESL/EFL field in the near future. These tips were a great starting point. Thanks again.

  • Thu, 14 Jan 2010
    Post by christie sterns

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write this article. It was GREAT!...informative, well organized and genuine. We currently specialize in classroom-based training and I have been thinking about redesigning a few of our courses for on-line use. This article has really helped me understand what to expect with this process. Thanks again.

  • Tue, 03 Nov 2009
    Post by Michelle Everson

    Thank you all for the great comments and feedback on the article I wrote. Teaching online has become a passion of mine and I like to be able to share what I have learned over the years. I don't think some people realize the unique demands that are placed on an instructor who teaches in the online environment. Just yesterday, I was talking to a colleague about how very difficult it's been for me to keep up with discussion in my courses because I was asked to add several more students than usual to one of my online classes this last fall (and I'm currently teaching three different online courses). The workload has increased tremendously because of this, and I often question if those who teach only in the classroom realize all that's involved in trying to teach an online course (and to teach it WELL). To me, a good online course is one where the instructor is present and visible and supportive of students, in addition to being quick to help students and give them feedback so they can move on in a timely manner to other assignments in the course. This can take a great deal of time. However, I wouldn't change what I'm doing now for anything. I feel I get to know my online students and interact with them in ways that are so different from what I experience in the classroom, and I appreciate that. I also like the challenge of continuing to find ways to help my online students learn and grow in their understanding of a very challenging subject area. I agree with you, Lisa, that we do need to focus more on training issues. Maybe that's something we can tackle together in the future!

  • Sat, 24 Oct 2009
    Post by J. Allyn Bradford

    In my view Michelle is a very thoughtful writer. The role of the online teacher was very clearly defined with just enough limits set to challenge the students. I am an online teacher myself and found many valuable insights in reading her work. Among many other things, I learned from reading this paper is that students can be respected without being overly controlled, and that the respect can be mutual between students and teachers. The word respect has many meanings of course, but what I found in this paper is that respect can be learned through a gentle discipline that enables growth and development for both students and teachers.

  • Wed, 21 Oct 2009
    Post by john edelson

    I'll comment on point 2, the timeliness of feedback. In our writing courses, we don't let the students advance to the next step until they've not only finished the previous one but have also received the teacher's feedback on it. The benefit to the student is that they can incorporate the feedback in the next effort and they receive the feedback while the lessons are still fresh in their mind. Our teacher's give feedback within a day to each assignment.

    Our teachers find that teaching online is in many ways, much more efficient than traditional classrooms. Of course since writing is text-based, it adapts very well to online learning.

  • Mon, 19 Oct 2009
    Post by Lisa Chamberlin

    Your #10 thought is what my teaching partner and I like to refer to as "backward diffusion". When online learning informs teaching in the traditional classroom. We are seeing it more and more. We've both done this job about ten years now and have come to the same realizations...we put ours down in book Making the Move to eLearning: Putting your Course Online (Rowman Education, 2009). I would encourage you to do the same...there are not nearly enough "experts" training faculty yet.

  • Wed, 30 Sep 2009
    Post by Cindy Hollingsworth

    I've taught online and supported faculty teaching online for over a decade. Your comments are some of the most concise and clear that I've run across. Well done. And well shared.

  • Wed, 30 Sep 2009
    Post by Judy Unrein

    I love how concrete your tips and examples are. Great job.

  • Mon, 21 Sep 2009
    Post by Lisa Stirratt

    This is a great article for new or seasoned online teachers. Michelle does a great job outlining the unique needs of teaching an online course. I have taught both classroom and online courses at the college level and can relate to much of what she describes. When I began the online experience, I also tried to transfer all of my face-to-face classroom materials to the online curriculum. I was constantly reevaluating and reworking the online materials because it didn't all transfer smoothly. It is a lot of work that many instructors are not prepared for when they begin.

    As we look into the future of online education as a viable and effective way of providing high-quality instruction to more people, I believe that more work needs to be done to train online instructors. Teachers should be offered training to better prepare them for the issues discussed in this article. It would save teachers much time and energy as they learn how to facilitate effective online instruction. Furthermore, I think that higher education institutions would benefit from hiring more instructional designers to development the online format of the courses. This would save teachers valuable time and allow them to focus on the students.

  • Thu, 10 Sep 2009
    Post by Kevin Goodrich

    Here's a beautiful book for all teachers and those who love 'em...

  • Thu, 22 Jan 2009
    Post by majidi

    good morning, I am interesting in this web site, but I want some magazine about education and teknologi. thank u very much

  • Wed, 26 Mar 2008
    Post by Carmen McElrone

    The school''s database only provided the abstract to this article, and it was exactly what I needed for my assignment.

  • Wed, 16 Jan 2008
    Post by Dr Michael Sankey

    USQ in Australia has now gone with Moodle as its primary LMS for its 25,000+ students). We were using WebCT Vista but found it very limiting. Moodle is providing us with a lot more flexability and allows us to add a whole lot of extra features.