eCoaching Tip 50 Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online Plus Thoughts on “Voice”

September 20 2007

eCoaching Tip 50: Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online Plus Thoughts on “Voice”

Welcome back to everyone and to the fall term. We hope that you enjoyed the first faculty webinar on Five Simple Practices for Great Course Beginnings.  These new webinars are another resource for getting to know your fellow faculty members and to focus on improving your teaching practices. The second fall webinar – Building community in online courses—focuses on practices that promote peer to peer dialogue as one element of nurturing  a learning community.

For those of you who are new or almost new to the art and science of teaching online, here is a link to a set of Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online.

Just to provide a bit of a teaser, the list of those ten best practices is below.  If you are a very experienced online faculty member, there may be a topic that you would like to revisit. And yes, for those absolutely new instructors, this is the same document that we send out to all new faculty as part of your welcome package.

Quick Tip on “Voices”

Here is just a quick thought about “voices” in online courses. We often talk about the three dialogues in online courses: the dialogue between faculty and students; between students, and between the students and the whole abundance of possible course resources (readings, online resources, experts, etc.)  The particular dialogue between faculty and students varies from a didactic voice to a to a facilitative voice and to a mentoring voice.

Now is a good time to think about the “voice” that you use with your students. The role that teachers have with their students in an online class can often get stuck in the didactic mode, where we are “talking at” our students, rather than listening, hearing and truly responding and then probing as to what a student may be thinking or trying to articulate.  What voice do you use when coaching a student through a project?  What voice do you use on the discussion board — encouraging, probing, inviting?  Is it the kind of voice you use in a one-on-one situation?  For a whole class session?

Who is your best role model for a good voice in teaching? I like to think about Merlin and how he instructed and challenged young Arthur in the hope of preparing Arthur to be a great king.  Which of your voices do your students find effective? And how and how often do we make room to hear the “voices” of our students.  Enjoy thinking about all your possible voices of teaching and learning.

Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online.

Here is a quick reminder list of a set of ten best practices for teaching online that is good for posting on a wall somewhere.

Best Practice 1: Be present at the course site

Best Practice 2: Create a supportive online course community.

Best Practice 3:  Share a set of very clear expectations for your students and for yourself as to  (1) how you will communicate and (2) how much time students should be working on the course each week.

Best Practice 4: Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences.

Best Practice 5: Use both synchronous and asynchronous activities.

Best Practice 6:  Early in the term – about week 3, ask for informal feedback on “How is the course going?” and “Do you have any suggestions?”

Best Practice 7: Prepare Discussion Posts that Invite Questions, Discussions, Reflections and Responses.

Best Practice 8: Focus on content resources and applications and links to current events and examples that are easily accessed from learner’s computers.

Best Practice 9: Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning.

Best Practice 10:  Plan a good closing and wrap activity for the course, as appropriate.


Boettcher, J. V. Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online for the First Time — The Quick Guide.  Accessed August 13, 2010 at

Note: These E-coaching tips were initially developed for faculty in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. This library of tips has been organized and updated through 2016  in the second edition of the  book, The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips coauthored with Rita Marie Conrad. Judith can be reached judith followed by