Best Practices: Teaching Online

Best Practices: Online (www) Courses

The University of Idaho Registrar’s Office refers to online courses in the schedule with the prefix “www” (World Wide Web). These courses are based exclusively online where students access instructions and all course materials (lectures, assignments, resources, etc.). Here are some tips to consider when teaching a fully online class.

1. Finish before you start

Plan, design, and finish building your online course before opening it to your students. Just as you wouldn’t build an airplane as it’s flying; it’s not a good idea to be building your online course as you teach it.

2. Provide clarity

Provide clear navigation for your course, and be clear with your students on the course requirements, including how they should participate, coursework, due dates, and your evaluation criteria.

3. Monitor your students

Keep an eye on the gradebook and in discussion forums for students who are “hibernating.” Run BbLearn early warning reports, or look for students who may be missing deadlines. They might be experiencing difficulties navigating the course and material.  They may be able to catch up on their own, though in many instances they are at risk for dropping the course. If you see a student faltering, go ahead and contact them to find out what’s going on, so you can work together to find a solution.

4. Be present

Students like to know you exist and are actively engaged in their education. Make your presence known in class at least four to five days during the week with announcements, responding to questions, and participating in discussions (but don’t cap them), and providing feedback and guidance. Tell students when to expect a response to their questions (e.g. within 24 or 48 hours) and do your best to meet that.

5. Provide timely feedback on assignments

While speedy feedback is ideal, grading complicated assignments may take more time. Tell your students when longer response times might occur, so they will know when to expect feedback, and can be understanding of the various demands on your time.

Instructional Designers

We have two instructional designers on staff who are happy to meet with you to discuss any topics related to teaching and learning:

Carie Saunders Carie Saunders
Instructional Designer
Phone: (208) 885-7138
Doug Habib Doug Habib
Instructional Designer
Phone: (208) 885-6838

If you have any questions or need help getting started with your courses, you may also contact us at