How do I teach online?

There is no one right way to teach a course online just as there is no one right way to teach in a face to face environment. However, there are a couple of different ways you could approach or structure your course to have success in teaching online. This article will address what you need to be cognizant of as you develop your online course.


Whether you are teaching face to face or online, the first thing you should do is determine the course objectives, as well as the student learning outcomes. If you are unsure about your student learning outcomes, make sure you work through these before even determining how to structure the course. If you are uncertain what to expect from students, it will be difficult to create activities, assessments and resources that are beneficial to their learning.

Determine how you would like your students to show evidence of their student learning. Basically, how are you going to assess the learning of your students? If you have not thought about your assessments, keep in mind that what they test should align with the student learning outcomes.


If a learning outcome for the course is:

Students will understand, and be able to explain Hamlet’s inner conflicts concerning other conflicts and themes that occur in the story.

Possibilities to test for Evidence of Student Learning:

Write an essay that explains Hamlet’s internal conflict as well as the significance of the conflict concerning themes relevant to the story.

Create an annotated diagram that shows the various elements of conflict at play in Hamlet.

An example of a bad question for this Student Learning Outcome.

Can you explain the theme of conflict in the story of Hamlet?

A student may touch on Hamlet’s internal conflict, but the question doesn’t specify this in any way, and most likely they won’t focus on the internal conflict, as there are many more aspects of conflict more clearly evident in the story.

How will the assessments be performed? Will students have to submit an assignment such as an essay? Will they have to send a photo? Will they have to submit an audio file (what format)? Will students take quizzes online? If so, will the quiz be randomized, or will each student get the same questions? Will there be any peer assessment? If so, how would you like to conduct this? You could use the Moodle Workshop Activity, or you could utilize the discussion forums and have them critique fellow students work openly and constructively. Will students have to present on a topic in an online environment? There are many possibilities to consider. It is important to determine what you want the students to demonstrate before determining what the tool will be.

Activities and Resources

What activities and resources will the students utilize so they can gain the knowledge and skills to demonstrate the student learning outcomes you decided upon? Keep in mind that assessments, activities and resources need to not only help students meet student learning outcomes, but also must be appropriate for an online environment. It is best to determine the outcome and then factor in any tools and environmental issues.

Having the students act out a scene from Hamlet, may help them understand how to read the play better and even give the students a better sense of how the characters interact; however, this may not be a feasible method to employ in an online course. Think of alternatives to this.

  • Can you record the different parts, and put up an audio recording for the students to listen to?
  • Can you do a reading during a synchronous online session?
  • Can you have the students post recordings of themselves reading a certain line, and then put those recordings in order of the reading?
  • Is there a short video you can utilize fairly?

Environment and Delivery

As you design assessments and activities for your course, think about the delivery method in an online environment. You can deliver the course synchronously, in which all the students connect to an online environment at the same time. Alternatively, you can deliver the course asynchronously, in which the students can access content during times that are most convenient to them. You can also use a combination of the two.

The method you use should be related to the activities, resources and assessments you would like to utilize. Class discussions, for example, can take place in both the synchronous and asynchronous environments. However, an audio discussion would most likely utilize a tool like Webex or Adobe Connect, and would take place synchronously. An in-depth written discussion with resources etc., would probably take place in a discussion forum, like the ones in Moodle, and would be considered asynchronous.


Thinking about what you want the students to learn is always your first step. Build your course up from there. The tools you utilize and the structure of your course will be determined by the activities, assessments and resources you deem needed for successful student learning.

At any point in this process, help is available to you. Please contact us with any questions you may have, or if you wish to have a one on one session to address any issues or challenge.