Tips on Establishing an Online Teaching Program

This post is written by Jessica Class – a copy blogger at Essay One Day.

Are you passionate about teaching, but have no idea how to go about taking establishing an online teaching program. If so, then this article is for you. The growth of internet technology has offered a platform for just about anyone to make some extra money, with online teaching offering one of the most lucrative opportunities on the web. Over the past five years, there has been a considerable surge in the shift towards online education owing to the greater flexibility and easier access that comes with online platforms. The recent growth in online teaching opens up unforeseen opportunities for educators like yourself. However, to be successful, you must note that changing from the conventional classroom to online teaching is a significant adjustment, and you must plan properly. Nonetheless, by following these guidelines, you can establish a successful online teaching program:

  • Be visible
  • Be organized
  • Plan and develop learning objectives
  • Select, prepare, and master technology
  • Communicate regularly
  • Develop a supportive online learning community
  • Utilize both asynchronous and synchronous activities

Be Visible

As has previously been mentioned, the online classroom differs from the conventional one, particularly in the sense that text is used to replace verbal and face-to-face verbal communication. This dynamic can leave your students feeling like the instructor is not actively involved in the process of learning, increasing the likelihood of students taking a passive role. A lack of visibility, whether real or perceived can negatively influence the attitude of students regarding the effectiveness of the instructor, and can lower the levels of affective learning. There are several ways you could demonstrate visibility in your online teaching program, such as:

  • Providing a section on the course website that carries professional and personal information about the instructor
  • Offering prompt feedback and timely response on assignments
  • Regular postings and website updates
  • Personal and mass email communications with students

Be Organized


Learners who choose online programs generally base their decision on the assumption that such programs will offer more flexibility for their strict schedules. As such, learners need to know what is expected of them to allow them to organize their limited time to meet the course requirements. You need to ensure that your online teaching program meets the needs of students by preparing the syllabus and assignment due dates carefully, and well in advance to give students information on what is expected well in advance.

You could also prepare documents of the Do’s and Don’ts of the online course, including posting requirements, web etiquette, and communication. Part of the organization will also require you to use different formats for different online resources, appropriately labelling the formats to allow students to select the format that is most useful to them, whether doc, html, or pdf.

Plan and Develop Learning Objectives

A critical element of planning and managing an online teaching program is the instructors’ recognition of the fact that, while there exist numerous educational technologies and tools for course management and online teaching, not all the available technologies are appropriate for each subject being taught and the pedagogical style of the teacher. Regardless of the medium, instructors must strive to reach certain standards. As such, establishing a successful online teaching program will require developing clear and concise learning objectives.

As you prepare your learning objectives, make sure that you pay attention to observable behavioral outcomes. Use clear and targeted verbs to communicate the expected learning outcomes to students. Also, make sure that the learning outcomes focus on the student. Include measurement criteria for each of the learning objectives.

Select, Prepare, and Master Technology

While technology is not the only factor in establishing a successful online teaching program, it is definitely a pivotal one. After developing well-defined objectives, it is time to select the technological options that are ideal for the course.  Conduct your research and test the tools to have a good grasp of the technical aspects. However, you should consider that the field of online teaching is rapidly changing, and you need to keep an eye out for emerging trends and best practices. Invest in the proper hardware and software.

 Communicate Regularly

The key to establishing a successful online teaching program lies in consistency. To be successful, you must maintain a consistent presence online, and communication is a critical aspect of that consistency. Introduce yourself to students and allow students to introduce themselves and interact with each other, thus bringing warmth and humanity to the online classroom. Inform the students of the best time and methods to contact instructors, and respond to questions in a timely manner.

Develop a Supportive Online Learning Community

When looking to establish a successful online teaching program, a good strategy would be to develop a supportive course community by designing a course with a balanced set of dialogues. In other words, you should design the course in a way that faculty and students can interact and students can interact with other students. Note that, just like in conventional classrooms, your program should have a teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive (content) presence. Use these strategies to encourage peer-to-peer, student-to-student, and instructor-to-student interaction:

  • Encourage the use of a general open forum, where students can request assistance from other students, such as help areas and discussion boards
  • Establish small student groups where students can take on the responsibilities of mentoring fellow students

Utilize both Asynchronous and Synchronous Activities

During the early stage in the growth of online teaching, courses were mostly asynchronous, mostly in the form of learning through correspondence. In asynchronous online learning, often facilitated by discussion boards and e-mail, learning activities between teachers and students are supported even when a party is not online. This approach is favored for the flexibility it permits, as the learner can log on to the online learning program and at any instance and access material or send information to teachers and fellow students. However, such learning has been accused of isolation and disconnect, leading most pedagogy scholars to advocate for the integration of synchronous learning.

Unlike asynchronous learning, synchronous learning takes place when all parties interact at the same time, and is often supported by such media as chat and video conferencing, and has the potential to support the development of online learners’ learning communities. With previous research linking synchronous learning to collaborative and active learning, there is a need for its integration into the online teaching program. Combining elements of both synchronous and asynchronous offers the benefits that come with interactive brainstorming, while still gaining from the planning, thinking and summarizing that comes with asynchronous teaching.

To summarize, when looking to establish a successful online teaching program, you must recognize the key areas that online teaching departs from the conventional classroom, and modify your strategy to meet such variances. By making use of the tips addressed here, you can address most of the challenges that lead to the failure of online teaching programs. Most importantly, as technology changes, you must also adapt your teaching strategies and tools according to evidence-based best practices. 

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