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Online and On campus:

  • Frequent contact between faculty and students, whether in person or online through Canvas, helps motivate students and shows them that you care about their education.
  • Group projects enhance students learning and experience by showing them different perspectives, forcing them to be involved in their learning, and teaching them how to work in a group environment.
  • Set high but realistic expectations. The more you expect of the students the harder they will work but it is important not to set them up for failure.
    • Dogfooding is a software engineering term that refers to developers using their own software. This can apply to teachers as well for doing their own assignments as a way to accurately measure the difficulty and to adjust accordingly. For more information visit: Cult of Pedagogy.
  • Create an outline and stick to it as much as possible.  Refer back to it as a guidepost to help students understand the big picture and how the current discussion topic ties into the whole lesson.
  • Visual aids such as graphs and models help students understand the material more clearly. Creating these in real time rather than having them already made lets you pace your lecture and the students benefit from seeing the process behind making them.


  • Actively involving your students with the lesson helps information retention. Answering questions, discussing within a group, and relating lessons to real world problems all help students get a better understanding of the subject.
  • Taking notes vastly increase information retention and allows for students to have reference material. Encourage students that aren’t taking notes to try it and see if it improves their grade.


  • Communication can make or break an online class. Even more so than in an on campus class the instructor needs to establish lines of communication with the students early and use them often. Whether it be email, Canvas announcements, or discussion boards the instructor needs to be available to answer questions for students in a timely manner.
  • Well-structured classes greatly benefit students who are used to more organization that is found in an on campus class. Syllabuses, rubrics, timely feedback, and modularized lessons are a great way to add structure to a course and its assignments.
  • Feel free to recommend online resources to students by providing links on Canvas. A lot of free content is available on the web if you know where to look!
  • Contact students who have not participated in group discussions or have not accessed assignments to see if they need assistance.
  • Reduce your workload and give students a chance to interact with each other and possibly learn new things by allowing them to assess each other’s assignments.
  • Course evaluations at the end of the class offer a lot of information from the students on how to further improve your course for future students.
  • Deadlines are important for students in an online class. It is easy for students to put off assignments or forget when they aren’t constantly exposed to the material like they would be in an on campus class. This is especially true for assignments and projects that aren’t due until the end of the class.
    • For larger projects it can be helpful to split it into multiple smaller assignments to ensure students stay on pace.