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Best Practices | A Review of Best Practices

Over the past several years, the instructional designers in CIRT have written dozens of articles on best practices in online teaching and learning, covering a variety of topics from developing course maps to encouraging student engagement. While there's certainly no shortage of new topics to write about, in this edition of CIRT News, we highlight a few of those articles that have the most potential for impact in online learning.


For a complete list of all articles written by current and past members of the instructional design team, visit the Best Practices section of the instructional design website.

Course Development & Delivery

Preparing ahead of time for the challenges of developing and delivering an online course can drastically improve both the student and instructor experience. Here are some articles that may be of assistance with the planning, development, and delivery of your online course.

  • Developing a Course Map for Your Online Course: Content chunking is a strategy that makes more efficient use of short-term memory by consolidating and grouping different sections of information together. The course map described in this article will assist in better organizing and scaffolding course content for more effective student engagement.
  • Scaffolding To Support Student Success In Online Courses: In order maximize students' ability to complete assignments and assessments in a course, faculty can provide just the right amount of support or scaffolding for success. This article examines scaffolding and explores the ways that scaffolding can be used to increase student achievement in an online course.
  • Mindful Development and Delivery of an Online Course: For both seasoned professionals and absolute beginners, developing and delivering an online course can sometimes be a daunting task. This article discusses how a mindful approach to developing and delivering an online course can ease some of the anxieties and doubts that may arise during the process.

Teaching Online

Connection, engagement, and interaction are the foundation upon which student success, motivation, and learning are built. Providing structured feedback to students and making your online presence known are two ways that instructors can be more effective online teachers.

  • Benefits of Providing Feedback to Students: One of the most important elements in any course, whether face-to-face or online, is providing students with feedback about their performance. This article explores how ongoing and consistent feedback can have a positive effect on student success in online classes.
  • Cultivating a Sense of Presence in Your Online Course: This article covers strategies that can be used to increase a sense of instructor presence in an online class and decrease the digital separation that students might feel between their instructor and classmates.
  • Promoting Academic Integrity in Your Online Course: It's no secret that one of the biggest instructor concerns surrounding online courses is how to promote academic integrity. This article examines a variety of ways in which instructors can foster academic honesty in their online classes.

Student Engagement

Students who are more engaged with their online learning feel a greater sense of community within the course and, as a result, are better prepared to achieve a high-level of course learning. The following articles present some strategies for increasing student engagement in the online environment.

  • Peer Assessment: Peer assessment is an authentic tool that is used to evaluate student learning while contributing to the growth of critical thinking and metacognitive skills. This article delves into the use peer assessment, the benefits of employing this instructional tool, and strategies for building it in Blackboard.
  • Using Facebook Groups to Increase Learner Interaction: Facebook offers an alternative platform for engaging students in class discussions, announcements, and other interactions between peers and the instructor. This article provides information on research-based advantages for the educational use of Facebook.
  • Effective Online Collaboration Assignments: Group work in an online course can sometimes be a complex effort for both students and instructors. This article helps make sense of the best ways to develop successful collaborative group assignments.
  • Raising the Bar in Online Discussions: This article examines how faculty can facilitate engaging and effective discussions in their online classes.

If you would like more information about the content of this article or have other questions related to instructional design and online learning, please visit the instructional design website to schedule a consultation with an instructional designer.