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We are creating new templates and images every week, so you'll always have a fresh supply of new images. If you should find that our service does not meet your needs, please contact us within 30 days for a refund. Start downloading any of our templates and graphics immediately upon completion of your order. In his well-known book, What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain (2004) identified a set of core characteristics of exemplary college teachers. Given the differences between teaching face-to-face and teaching online, how can faculty members capture the best parts of “what works” in their courses across different delivery modes? Whereas best practices are clearly necessary for good teaching, we do not think that they are sufficient for excellent teaching. In summary, although there has been much discussion on best practices in online teaching and learning, most of this discussion focuses on the use of specific tools or techniques. A Faculty Learning Community (FLC) is a group of interdisciplinary faculty who engage in an active, collaborative, year-long program (Cox, 2004). The eLearning Pedagogy FLC, initiated at our university in 2009, focused on hybrid and online teaching and the integration of instructional technologies. The eLearning Pedagogy FLC was a collaborative program designed to learn and implement best practices in hybrid and online teaching and learning. In addition to the individual projects, the FLC used Bain’s (2004) book as the catalyst for our discussions about what the best online teachers should do. One of the most important factors discussed by Bain is fostering student engagement or creating effective student interactions with faculty, peers, and content. Other than one face-to-face teacher who used online discussion boards, teacher characteristics of effective online teaching or learning were absent from Bain’s book. Based on our reading of Bain’s book, we examined these three broad categories of what the best teachers do as they might or should apply to online teaching.
Bain (2004) asserts that the best college teachers foster engagement through effective student interactions with faculty, peers, and content. In the online environment, lecture need not and should not be the primary teaching strategy because it leads to learner isolation and attrition. There are many ways to foster student engagement with faculty, peers, and content in an online environment. A recent pedagogical tool, the use of web logs (blogs) has become increasingly popular as a means to engage students by facilitating reflective thinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge construction to contextualize real-world experiences (Nackerud & Scaletta, 2008). In summary, student engagement with teachers, peers, and content is vital in the online learning environment (see Table 1, part 1). The best college and university teachers create what we might call a natural critical learning environment in which they embed the skills and information they wish to teach in assignments (questions and tasks) students will find fascinating – authentic tasks that will arouse curiosity, challenge students to rethink their assumptions and examine their mental models of reality. While it may be more difficult to create the natural critical learning environment in the online setting, it is not impossible. If the teacher has taught the class in a traditional format, there are questions that have likely surfaced that can be used effectively in the online format. In summary, when it comes to stimulating intellectual development in students, questions are the key to creating a natural critical learning environment (see Table 1, part 2).
One way that Bain identified highly effective teachers was by how they treated their students. Recommendations of the correct manner or frequency with which teachers should employ these behaviors miss the point.
In summary, when it comes to building rapport with students, the best online teachers should understand the characteristics of their students and adapt accordingly (see Table 1, part 3).
Compared to teaching face-to-face, does teaching online make it more difficult or merely different to demonstrate the characteristics of the best teachers identified by Bain (2004)?
The point is not that online teaching is easier or more difficult, or that the trick to effective online teaching is the proper use of specific tools and techniques.
Another point we have tried to make in this paper is that there are multiple ways to teach well online.
To those readers who were hoping to that we would provide more specific recommendations on what tools or techniques to use (and not use) for online teaching, the response should be clear by now. We wish to thank Barbara Draude, Jackie Gilbert, and Brenda Kerr for their very helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.
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Bain generated his recommendations by interviewing, assessing, and observing over 60 outstanding teachers across many disciplines and kinds of higher education institutions. How can they demonstrate in online course delivery the characteristics of the most effective teachers identified by Bain? Since the early days of online learning, there have been suggestions about how technologies can be used to enhance collaborative learning opportunities (Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996). If becoming an outstanding teacher merely entails implementing recommended best practices, then there would be many more outstanding teachers than there currently are. Very little attention has been paid to the ways that online teachers can create the kinds of learning environments and experiences that Bain talks about as characterizing the best teachers. The program typically includes a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning with regularly-scheduled meetings and activities that provide participants with opportunities pertaining to the FLC’s major focus. Its general goal was to increase faculty interest in learning and teaching with instructional technologies.
Once the FLC began, participants attended monthly meetings that included teaching and learning activities, development and training opportunities, and community building.
During the course of our year-long meetings, the members frequently examined what worked well in their face-to-face classes, what they did not want to lose when they moved a course to online delivery, and how they could overcome some of the barriers to effective teaching inherent to a context where they never met with their students in person. They see the potential in every student, demonstrate a strong trust in their students, encourage them to be reflective and candid, and foster intrinsic motivation moving students toward learning goals. Likewise, student-to-student interaction is equally important as the quality and quantity of exchanges are predictors of success.
The most important role of the teacher is to ensure a high level of interaction and participation (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004).
For example, by the judicious and strategic use of humor, instructors can make course content more interesting and engaging and can be seen as more approachable by their online students ( LoSchiavo & Shatz, 2005) .


We have found that rather than framing these exercises as course requirements, faculty should emphasize them as opportunities for students to build a community where they can learn from each other, help one another in tackling challenging course content, and provide a support system for each other. Blogs are essentially online journals that are made public to the class or shared solely with the teacher. While there are various strategies, tools, and techniques to achieve this end, teachers are ultimately striving to create an environment that allows learning to flourish. Even problem-based learning, which incorporates many of the elements discussed by Bain, can be implemented online (Savin-Baden, 2007).
The best online teachers need to identify those questions and determine ways to keep them when moving to online delivery. Teachers might, for example, have their students ask a question and then apply what they learned in class to write an essay answering their own question ( Frank, 2007) . Bain identified some first-day activities that some highly effective teachers used to get to know students.
It is not sufficient for teachers to get to know their students without letting them get to know their teachers as well. Facilitating interpersonal contact is an important role for online teachers and creating a social presence by projecting their identities is essential (Swan, 2002). For example, just as with students in a traditional class, deadlines and due dates may need to be extended on occasion. Underprepared, first-generation students probably should be treated differently from a graduating senior.
In our examination of this topic, the question arises of how a course might lose something or be limited when it is no longer taught live or in-person. In the latter case, teachers try to determine how a specific technology can be incorporated into courses with little attention to how that tool helps them to meet their teaching and learning goals. Just as in the case of the best traditional teachers studied by Bain (2004), online teachers can use a variety of approaches to foster student engagement, stimulate intellectual development, and build rapport with students. A more productive and transformational approach to online teaching is to recognize that it allows teachers to transfer time from content delivery to time that can be devoted to fostering student engagement, stimulating intellectual development, and building rapport with students. The options available with this tool are really good and will help you create colorful and creative presentations with decent backgrounds and sizzling effects on slide transitions.
Without signing up to the system, you can download the slideshow presentations made online. One of the best parts of the single-player games was stumbling across new dungeons and quests throughout the game world, and hopefully ESO can translate that to a massive multiplayer game. You will have the option to renew, but you will not be automatically billed at the end of your subscription. In this paper, we use Bain’s (2004) book What the Best College Teachers Do to discuss some of the major ways that the practices of effective teaching in general can be applied to online teaching in particular. These teachers were identified through the awards they had received and their reputations for high quality teaching.
How can online faculty members best “make a difference” with their online students?
Clearly, there are good and bad (or more and less effective) ways to implement these practices. An important component of an FLC is an emphasis on the scholarship of teaching and learning ( Richlin & Cox, 2004) . It provided opportunities and support for a select group of faculty members to investigate, assess, and implement a variety of e-learning methods specific to their disciplines and interests.
In addition to developing or enhancing their own hybrid or online courses, participants read the literature on the scholarship of teaching and designed individual projects that allowed the assessment and evaluation of their instructional changes, suitable for presentation or publication in a professional journal. Throughout this process, Bain’s book continued to anchor the members and serve as a touchstone to guide our discussions.
In our case, a year-long, intensive examination of Bain’s book led us to look within and reflect on our teaching approaches and philosophies. There is nothing in Bain’s treatise that suggests that the activities of the best teachers cannot be transferred to the online (or hybrid) domain. Within each category, specific examples and behaviors are provided that either make effective use of the online format or that are barriers that need to be overcome when teaching online. The best teachers want students to learn, regularly assess their efforts and make adjustments as needed, and accommodate diversity with sensitivity to student needs and issues. This is achieved by means of greater student-to-faculty contact, participation in class discussions, and a more reflective learning style (Rabe-Hemp, Woolen, & Humiston, 2009). Videos or podcasts can help students connect with and understand content in a way that print (or slides) alone may not be able to achieve. Furthermore, just as traditional classroom discussion can be enhanced by breaking students up into small groups, online discussions can also be set up in small groups.
They differ from discussions in that they are not intended for comments by others, although they may include comments intended to support the student. These include (1) presenting a provocative question or problem, (2) guiding students to understand the significance of the question, (3) encouraging the students to think critically, (4) providing a learning environment that helps student to answer the question, and (5) leaving the students with additional questions and the desire to know more. It is important to reiterate that the tool or method is less important than student learning outcomes and the teacher’s attitude. Given the wide variety of tools available to students, they could write a traditional essay, create a video essay answering the question, and use blogs, wikis, and discussion boards as venues for asking and answering questions. These teachers usually believe that students want to learn and they assume, until proven otherwise, that they can. These included pretests, survey forms, and a course overview that identified several questions that the course would help them answer. Online teachers may find that they can use introductory activities to tell students a little about themselves.
Rather, it is how and why teachers create presence and build rapport with their online students. This flexibility can be much easier in the online course, where the student can have access to all course material with the click of a mouse.
Students differ in their ability to adjust to college, the level of monitoring and scaffolding they need, the amount of experience they have with online learning and the course management system, and so on. In essence, they can be seduced by the technology or the delivery mode and give in to the temptation to use instructional technology for its own sake. Recognizing the potential for individual variation in teaching well online suggests that there are no essential tools or techniques that all teachers should use. That is one of the most important challenges facing teachers who aspire to develop their students into life-long learners. Instructional blogging: Promoting interactivity, student-centered learning, and peer input. This blog was started as a showcase of solutions for different problems and today it has got a good reputation in the blogosphere.
Specifically, we explore methods of fostering student engagement, stimulating intellectual development, and building rapport with students when teaching online. The students of the best teachers not only learn, but also learn to love learning, which in turn provides a sustained and significant impact on the students’ lives.
For example, in an exploratory study of the practices of exemplary online teachers, Lewis and Abdul-Hamid (2006) found several common themes. In fact, it is likely that Bain would argue that what the best teachers do should not depend on the mode of course delivery. We also focus on the less tangible qualities that are the hallmark of good teaching as described by Bain. These elements support Bain’s premise that it is imperative that students be active, not passive, to create a true learning environment. Videos, blogs, wikis, and discussion forums can also personalize the discipline and allow students to get to know the teacher as an individual who cares about student learning and success. Likewise, team projects can be assigned in traditional classrooms and a host of software is available to facilitate virtual team collaboration. The added benefit of blogs that are shared with classmates is that they foster a sense of community where students can learn from each other while engaging in discussion, exploration, and discovery (Glogoff, 2005).
Of course, there is no guarantee that online students will take advantage of these opportunities any more than students in a traditional classroom will. As long as it is possible to ask questions in an online class, then Bain’s natural critical learning environment can exist in an online class.
The use of humor can be an effective strategy to convey openness or to establish a level of comfort that nurtures the learning process.


This might explain why, for example, that there is little agreement among experienced online teachers about the ideal frequency of participating in threaded discussions (Mandernach, Gonzales, & Garrett, 2006).
Therefore it is important to remember that even though a teacher may not physically meet an online student during the semester, that student deserves to be recognized and treated as an individual. Feedback on assignments is an important part of this process, conveying to students that teachers believe that they are capable of doing the work and are willing to help them. An important element of rapport building is that teachers are flexible – with regard to getting to know their students, getting their students to know them, working around deadlines, and creating an atmosphere that enhances learning. The decreased amount of in-person teacher contact with students makes it more difficult to teach well online.
In the short life of online teaching and learning, specific tools and techniques have waxed and waned in popularity. If teachers can determine the essential components of their courses that create a natural critical learning environment, then their use of a specific tool or technique can and should be guided by those components.
Because of the nature of online teaching, this cart-before-the-horse problem can be exacerbated compared to traditional face-to-face teaching.
Rather, what is essential is a specific pedagogical attitude that reflects a high level of commitment to and investment in students. Instructional immediacy and the seven principles: Strategies for facilitating online courses.
A theoretical framework for the online classroom: A defense and delineation of a student-centered pedagogy.
A comparative analysis of student engagement, learning, and satisfaction in lecture hall and online learning settings. Developing scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning through faculty learning communities. These are the less tangible attributes that Bain (2004) discussed as the essential characteristics of the best teachers. The faculty came from a diverse set of disciplines including Psychology, University Studies, Agribusiness and Agriscience, Leadership Studies, and Electronic Media Communication.
However, as we examined our approaches to online teaching and learning, our impulse was to identify, discuss, and apply the methods and techniques that characterize exemplary teachers.
However, course delivery mode does have implications for how to demonstrate the characteristics shown by the best teachers. This kind of engagement is particularly important given the need for more self-discipline from students in online compared to traditional classes (Clark-Ibenez & Scott, 2008). It is one thing for a student to read a syllabus (or any document) about course requirements and expectations, but quite another for a teacher on video to talk about opportunities for learning and his or her teaching philosophy, just as Bain argues the best teachers do in the traditional classroom.
There are any number of tools that can be used to incorporate these elements into an online class.
As most experienced online teachers know, there are several commercial programs that can be used to capture and convert class presentations, screen shots, and screen captures to audio-video files.
Likewise, the use of emoticons and addressing students by name can contribute to establishing a social presence online (Aragon, 2003). Because the online teacher is missing facial and body language cues that a traditional teacher would have, an online teacher can keep written records of communication that include relevant information to foster a personal connection.
In some cases, this is more easily accomplished in the online environment, because a student can receive individualized feedback without having to wait for the next class meeting.
It is also likely that part of this perceived difficulty can be attributed to a generation of teachers who have been taught in a traditional manner.
How these elements are operationalized into teaching practice is up to the individual teacher. In all of these efforts, exemplary teachers also strove to convey accurately their expectations for the students. The FLC was supported by funds provided by the Academic Affairs Division, and its members received a stipend of $500 for their participation.
When we got bogged down with best practice considerations, we found that we were losing sight of what is best for student learning. A third essential characteristic of the best teachers is building rapport with students, which includes behaviors such as demonstrating and encouraging trust and potential in students, flexibility, self-directed learning, communicating learning and success intentions to students, and conveying realistic goals and expectations. There are likely to be advantages and disadvantages to online teaching when it comes to being an outstanding teacher.
The best teachers want students to develop their own questions and then show the students that their own personal questions are related to the questions presented by the teacher. To understand how these elements can be incorporated in an online setting, consider the first and perhaps most important element: presenting a provocative question.
Personalized contact can be anything from a note on worrisome midterm grades, to encouraging words to strive for a higher grade.
With the help of the FLC facilitator, we resisted this impulse and focused instead on the more general attributes of the outstanding teachers Bain describes. Accordingly, the best teachers use meaningful examples, stimulating assignments, and thought provoking questions to motivate students to know more about their discipline.
Programs are available to create video lectures with cartoon characters for those who would rather not record themselves.
The principle question for our purposes is how to build this kind of rapport effectively in the online environment. One possibility is to require permission of the teacher before the student can enroll in the class. Participating in class discussions can also allow teachers to get more personal with their students. Many online students are surprised by a call or note after a surgery or the birth of a child.
However, by attending to the issues raised in this paper and adjusting their teaching styles and course content accordingly, there are many ways that online teachers can succeed and thrive. In these ways, the best teachers get their students to connect with the course, its content, and its teacher. At the beginning of the course an internet survey can be used to discover what questions students have as they start the course. If teachers are dynamic lecturers and have the ability to hold a class’s attention while asking stimulating questions, then they can easily capture these lectures and place them online.
An office visit might be required, but a phone call can be a way to establish contact in a more personal way. Such contacts remind them that they are an important part of the class and are missed if they are not participating. Regardless of how these questions are solicited, the teacher’s attitude and subsequent actions are most important. There are multiple avenues to broadcast class lectures through Web-based tools, virtual environments, mobile applications, or a dedicated media server provided by one’s school.
When rapport is established, the teacher is better equipped to gather information about students in a variety of ways that may help with success later in the semester. If teachers just ask the students to list questions they find interesting, this is a futile exercise. Many times students will reveal past difficulties with the subject matter, personal issues that may affect their performance, or job and family obligations that can vary from week to week.
Teachers could easily devise any number of questions to ask their students, but the best teachers ask questions that students want to answer. In a face-to-face setting, classroom time could be used to help students answer these questions.
Knowing this information may help a teacher use strategies that are better for this student as the semester unfolds.
This goes well beyond the multiple-choice scanner sheet exams (or the online equivalent) that are so common on college campuses.
In a similar fashion, Bain notes that some of the best teachers use the internet to leave students with a final question after class. This can be a thought-provoking exercise that encourages students to apply content, transition to new material, and integrate previous course information. One of the results of these FLC discussions was the recognition of the importance of determining this balance and how knowing one’s student population is essential to reaching that goal.



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