If the COVID pandemic was your first exposure to online teaching, or if you are starting to consider what your options are for your next offering of a course, this is a good place to start. This guide will let you explore what we mean by online learning (and how it’s different from crisis remote teaching) and hopefully answer some questions. Using technology to teach (even completely online) has a rich history and established best practices. If you are interested in learning more about how online teaching can be an effective teaching tool, this is a good place to start.

What’s the difference between remote teaching and teaching online (and all the other definitions I see)?

The pandemic shifted many classrooms immediately to an online format. While arguably any instruction that happens through a digital format could be considered teaching online, there are some generally accepted definitions for different buzzwords that you may hear or read. From hybrid to hyflex, synchronous to asynchronous, there are many different flavors of online teaching and learning. However, it can be equally effective and rewarding if developed thoughtfully. It can be beneficial to speak with a learning experience designer to explore the opportunities more. They may be able to help guide your class in ways you have not considered

The key thing to remember is that teaching using an online modality employs different teaching strategies than a face-to-face class. Often instructional designers will talk about transforming your class rather than translating your face-to-face class to an online format. By thinking about how you like to teach, your learning goals, as well as the tools available, your course may not look the same, but it will function appropriately for the online space. Video lectures should be utilized differently. Online discussions feel different than a face-to-face discussion. However, teaching online can be equally effective and rewarding if developed thoughtfully. If you are unsure about how to structure techniques to achieve your learning goals, it can be beneficial to speak with a learning experience designer to explore the opportunities more. Learning experience designers and instructional designers may be able to help shape your class in ways you have not considered to achieve student success.


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How is online teaching different from emergency remote teaching?

This document describes the difference between the emergency remote teaching (prevalent during the pandemic) and designed online teaching

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Online Teaching & Learning Definitions

This document includes specific descriptions of how University of Michigan defines online teaching and learning

What do I really need to know before I move forward with an online or hybrid course?

From a programmatic perspective, we always recommend discussing with your department how, how much, or even if a course can be shifted to a hybrid or online space. There is an additional layer of requirements for online courses and financial aid, so always checking to make sure it’s a good fit is important.

From a design standpoint, the number one piece of advice before getting started with online learning is to understand that it generally takes more time to develop an online course (compared to a face-to-face course). Starting early is better. We typically recommend starting to plan for an online course a full semester before teaching it. This gives you the time and space to create materials, record videos, and consider the best way to assess the course. It can be a lot of work if you are building a course on your own. On the other hand, once the course has been developed, you will be able to spend the time that you might be lecturing in a classroom on interaction with your students. You can engage with an instructional designer to help keep you on track, as well as we have resources to help plan.


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Designing an online course

This document will get you started with the design process of an online course.

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There are regulations about online courses as well. Our compliance pages will make sure that your online course meets federal regulations for interaction and credit hour monitoring.

I’m curious what we’ve learned about online teaching and learning.

The research on online teaching spans over twenty-five years. Educators have been looking at how to build online community, develop engaging content, and creating meaningful learning experiences in various ways for years. There is likely research on online teaching in your own discipline as well. If you are interested in learning more about how other researchers and educators have explored online teaching, explore the links below.


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Roundup on Research: Community of Inquiry

Learn more about one of the most popular frameworks in online teaching

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Discipline-specific research

From foreign languages to mathematics, there are many discipline-specific methods and strategies that can inspire you!

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Tea for Teaching podcast

While not specifically about online teaching, this podcast engages researchers and educators about topics in teaching. Many of them do deal with technology though, so it’s a great place to learn more.

Next Steps

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Designing an Online Course

Read This Guide