Principles of Effective Teaching in the Online Classroom

Principles of Effective Teaching in the Online Classroom

Principles of Effective Teaching in the Online Classroom

Principles of Effective Teaching in the Online Classroom


This issue of New Directions for Teaching and Learning presents the theory and practice of creating effective courses in the emerging field of online teaching. Drawing from their practical experience in faculty development, instructional design, and online instruction, the authors present an overview of the pedagogical and logistical issues associated with this rapidly expanding area of distance education. They explore the transition for both teacher and student from traditional professor-centered methods of education to the student-centered learning experience necessary in the online environment. They offer practical guidelines on structuring the online course, utilizing resources from the World Wide Web, and using other electronic tools and technology to enhance classroom efficiency. Chapters also address challenges unique to the online classroom community including successful communication strategies, performance evaluation, academic integrity, and accessibility for disabled students. With insightful information on what it takes to produce substantive learning among students in the online classroom, this issue is designed to familiarize educators with the tools and techniques they will need to realize the potential of this new approach to teaching and learning.

This is the 84th issue of the Jossey-Bass series New Directions for Teaching and Learning.


It is a daunting task to theoretically frame the pedagogy of the online classroom. Synthesizing varied new and largely untested practices (Draves, 1999) with equally varied educational theories could fill many volumes. Also, theoretical forays examining the online classroom often have a tendency to reflect the biases of specific authors, leading to myriad arguments about more than pedagogical theory; they become riddles with questions of epistemology and ontology. Although in a theoretical discussion not all such riddles can be avoided—and, in fact, some are even welcome—the goal of this article is to offer a theoretical framework for teaching online courses without discussing detailed questions about epistemological and ontological stances. Such a framework has three parts. First, I examine the differences between a professor-centered and student-centered classroom to establish the context for this article. Second, I present arguments supporting the notion that a student-centered approach is a necessity if the goal of the online classroom is student learning. Third, I offer a practical picture of the student-centered classroom when synthesized with the online environment.

Professor-Centered and Student-Centered Classrooms

The purpose of this section is not to offer a complete discourse on pedagogical theory and classroom control. Such arguments have been furnished many times in the seminal literature about teaching and learning (for . . .

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