Online Teaching Strategies

Teaching an online course requires active engagement by the instructor. This list of strategies can be used to effectively deliver instruction, facilitate learning activities, communicate with students, assess learning, and provide feedback when teaching online.

Online Presence 

Create a sense of presence in online instruction. Be clear about who is leading the instructional experience for the students. 

  • Engage with students (e.g. announcements, feedback, activities, discussion posts) and express interest in student learning. Demonstrate that you are active in the course. 
  • Facilitate learning through direct facilitation of student to content, student to student, student to faculty, and student to technology interactions. Do not simply post materials and/or log in just to monitor the course. Do not expect students to teach themselves. 
  • Provide online students with opportunities for meaningful live engagement and connection. Document efforts with the Aggies Virtual Connect Initiative. 

Course Instruction 

Provide course instruction (lectures, course reviews, engagement activities) that is equivalent to in-person courses. Instruction should be current, student-centered, and sufficient in breadth and depth. 

  • Instructional Videos 
  • Explain concepts or demonstrate procedures. 
  • Plan and record micro-lectures. 
  • Keep videos short (less than 10 minutes). 
  • Incorporate brief knowledge-check activities. 
  • Include captions and a transcript to ensure that all students can access the content.  
  • PowerPoint Presentations 
  • Include narration to provide additional context and explanations students would receive during an in-person class lecture. 
  • Provide a handout version of PowerPoint presentations (3 slides per page) printed as a PDF to aid student note taking. 
  • Asynchronous Engagement 
  • Offer flexibility in scheduling. Post course content in Blackboard to ensure students can access course instruction 24/7. 
  • Incorporate activities that give students automatic or timely feedback on their progress and understanding. 
  • Synchronous Engagement 
  • Incorporate structured and ongoing instructional activities that allow students the opportunity to interact with the instructor and peers. 
  • Record synchronous activities (e.g. lectures) and make the sessions accessible to all students. Do not penalize students who are unable to attend synchronous sessions. 
  • Solicit emoticons from learners to simulate nonverbal cues and gestures that connect people. 

Course Organization

Organize course materials using a logical, build-upon precept manner. 

  • Use content folders or learning modules to house related course materials (e.g. chapters, weeks, units, or modules). 
  • Consider placing all relevant materials in the same location. Avoid having students click in multiple locations to find materials needed to complete an assignment. 
  • Introduce each chapter, week, module, or unit with a video or voice over PowerPoint that provides an overview of the expected tasks, due dates, and an explanation of how the materials and activities relate to learning objectives and previous/future coursework. 
  • Provide accurate and current due dates. Ensure that course materials are available in a timely manner. 

Learning Activities 

Activities should be aligned to the learning goals and objectives. The purpose of the activities should be clearly communicated to students. 

  • Use active learning techniques to engage students with the content. 
  • Partial lecture outlines/guided notes 
  • Peer review activities 
  • Wikis, journals, blogs 
  • Facilitate discussions as you would during an in-class discussion. Use prompts to foster engagement and deepen understanding of the course materials.  
  • Ask follow-up questions. 
  • Clarify misconceptions and provide additional insight. 
  • Use branching decision points and role plays to aid emergent meaning based on learner activity. 


Ensure that students with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations and support as they access and engage with content in the course. Communicate with the Office of Accessibility Resources (OARS) regarding students who require accommodations. 

  • Communicate with the Office of Accessibility Resources (OARS) regarding students who require accommodations. 
  • Provide flexibility in attendance, assignments, and testing. 
  • Review the OARS Accessibility Resources Faculty Guide for more information about teaching students with disabilities. 

Course Overview 

Provide an introduction to the course and the instructor. Explain how to get started and where to find important course components. Provide clarity in the expectations of student activity (participation and performance). Include explanations, descriptions, standards, requirements, guidelines, and context. 

  • Post an instructor welcome video. 
  • Post a course introduction video. 
  • Relay your plans for communicating with them.  
  • Incorporate team-building activities and ice breakers early to help facilitate group assignments throughout the course. 

Response Time 

Inform students of the expected response time for email and phone inquiries. 

  • Respond to students (via email or phone) within 24 to 48 hours. 
  • Consistently respond to students within the stated time frame. 

Individual Student Meetings 

Proactively host individual meetings with students via web conferencing (Zoom or Collaborate Ultra) or phone. 

Early Intervention 

Proactively communicate with students who may be behind in the course or experiencing difficulties. Contact students who do not access the course on a regular basis early in the semester. Inquire about their absence in a supportive way as students might be experiencing difficulties with technology or life challenges. 

  • Use Blackboard’s Retention Center to identify students in your course who are at risk. Contact at-risk students and flag those you want to monitor closely. 

Weekly Interactions 

Interact with students frequently during each week. Keep students abreast of course activities and address student inquiries. 

  • Model the kind of interactions you are expecting of your students. 
  • Post weekly announcements. 
  • Announce the start of a new chapter, module, week, or unit in the course. 
  • Communicate changes to the course schedule. 
  • Remind students of due dates and announce that grades are posted. 
  • Inform students of temporary delays to response times due to unforeseen circumstances. 
  • Use weekly pacing announcements to help learners with self-regulation and time management. 
  • Create an “Ask the Professor” discussion forum for students and monitor this forum regularly. 
  • Respond promptly and follow the stated response time frame. 
  • Offer synchronous office hours. 
  • Offer various time options. Consider students in different time zones. 


Use assessments to measure student performance, and whether the goals and objectives for the course are being met. Assessments should be ongoing and timely, accompanied with feedback. 

  • Provide clear guidance on technology requirements needed to complete assessments. 
  • Provide technology accommodations and alternative forms of assessment, when needed. (Other information on Assessments can be found under the Assessments tab).


Grading should be timely, ongoing, and consistent with the evaluation and grading plan outlined on the course syllabus. Inform students of the expected turnaround time for grades and feedback. 

  • Use the Blackboard Grade Center to post grades and feedback within the stated time frame. 
  • Use Blackboard’s inline grading tool, Bb Annotate, to provide customized feedback to students, including annotations and comments. 
  • Use Blackboard’s recording feature (microphone) in the Feedback to Learner window to provide students with more personal feedback regarding their submissions. 

Grade Center 

Keep the course Grade Center current and consistent with the course grading policy outlined on the syllabus. 

  • Ensure that the current, midterm, and final grades are always calculated based on the course grading plan. 
  • If using shared content, verify that the Grade Center setup is consistent with your grading plan. Check the Grade Center for hidden columns.