Guidelines for Effective Online Teaching

Table of Contents


The purpose of online learning at SPU is to provide a high quality learning experience that is as engaging, collaborative, and interactive. Learning should be:

  • Flexible - Students can obtain a quality education while maintaining busy lives. Faculty can teach courses from anywhere, allowing them to present research, attend conferences and engage in other forms of professional development year round.
  • Accessible - Online courses provide access to higher education for students who otherwise may not be able to participate in the course. Online classes are also an important option for degree completion programs
  • Innovative - Online courses enable faculty to take full advantage of emerging technologies and leverage students’ knowledge and expertise while collaborating globally.
  • Integrative - Online courses offer a unique opportunity to explore and learn the application of Christian faith to a specific discipline. Through reflective learning activities, experts and students from around the world can contribute to knowledge construction taking. 

Below are some guidelines to help you create a successful online course.

Ten Guidelines for Effective Online Teaching and Learning

  1. Time: Teaching online requires significant time and effort. Appropriate planning time and support are necessary for success.
  2. Professional Development: Online teaching is different from face-to-face teaching. Faculty need adequate professional development prior to teaching online.
  3. Peer Feedback: To ensure quality in this new way of teaching and learning, a group of trained peer reviewers should participate in systematic review of all SPU online courses.
  4. Student Training: Online learning is different from face-to-face learning. Students need an orientation to online learning before taking their first online course.
  5. Class Size: SPU online courses should be both high tech and high touch. Online class size should restricted in order to maintain high quality interactions and instruction.
  6. Appropriate Courses: Careful consideration should be given when deciding which courses and programs to put online. Student performance in online courses should be equivalent to outcomes in face-to-face courses.
  7. Teaching Presence: Instructors should demonstrate teaching presence through appropriate design, facilitation and direct instruction. This can be accomplished through appropriate professional development and peer feedback.
  8. Social Presence: Instructors should design courses that utilize social presence to promote effective online discourse. Courses should include interactive problem solving activities that require positive student-to-student interaction and collaboration.
  9. Cognitive Presence: Instructors should encourage cognitive presence by designing collaborative assignments that require students to answer real world questions through exploration, integration and reflection.
  10. Learning Presence: Successful online students plan, monitor, adapt, and reflect on their learning. Students need well-designed activities, training, and support to be successful.