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10 tips for instructors on effective distance education

April 1, 2020

Michael G. Moore, a pioneer in the field of contemporary distance education, offers these tips to instructors as they develop online learning courses:

  1. Plan every lesson as a series of chunks of time, typically three or four. For most students, a sensible chunk is 15 minutes.
  2. At the beginning of each chunk of time, tell students what they should be able to do at the end of that period (“learning objectives”).
  3. Each objective should have one or more specific outcomes that will tell you if the objective is achieved.
  4. Select resources that will help students achieve the objectives. These could be recorded materials, your own presentation, or student-generated knowledge.
  5. Recorded materials include text, video and audio resources, and online documents. Every resource should be curated so that it contributes directly to the achievement of the learning objectives.
  6. If you make a personal presentation, limit yourself to about 10 minutes of talking to the camera.
  7. Tasks can be set for students to reach an objective through discussion or team projects.
  8. Design an evaluation task to wrap up each chunk of lesson time. This might take as much as five minutes of a 15-minute lesson chunk.
  9. If many students fail the task, you have to start over — adjusting the remainder of that lesson (and also rethinking the objective). If one or a few fail the task, you must arrange remedial activities for those students in “after class” time.
  10. If possible, take time to plan the objectives, resources and evaluation tasks for your course before beginning, and place this information on the course website. The more you do upfront, the better your time can be spent facilitating student activities, managing evaluation activities, and giving individual remedial assistance.

Good luck!