How do I address common concerns with online course development and management?

Common Concern #1: How can course subject matter be appropriately adapted to the online format?

Common Concern #2: Use of new technology is overwhelming, lack of knowledge and resources to support student’s technological issues.

  • Use diverse modalities to display course content, including audio, video, images, concept maps, etc.
  • Use short (10 minute) audio and video lectures. Shorter presentations with varied media can optimize student engagement and allow for ease of updating in the future.
  • Do not overwhelm yourself with new technology, learn a new tool well, and incorporate new tools one at a time.
  • Provide resources on how to use online learning software.
  • Take advantage of institutional technology training sessions.

Common Concern #3: Student remoteness and isolation. How can I build community online? 

Common Concern #4: Lack of student interaction and engagement with online learning activities

  • Use an icebreaking activity to get students to introduce themselves (e.g. introductory discussion, create a PowerPoint slide about themselves).
  • Create a secondary forum such as a “Virtual Lounge” or “e-Café” where students can request assistance from one another, chat about the course, or other topics.
  • Set up small groups where students can support and mentor each other, and work on group assignments.
  • Create attention grabbing content to introduce learning objectives (i.e. media clips, documentaries, case studies) to connect course content to the “real world”.
  • Continue to nurture growth of student engagement.
  • Be present in your course, show presence multiple times/week.
  • Set clear expectations of when you will/will not be present.
  • Teach and model self-regulated skills to improve student’s online learning abilities.
  • Use collaborative projects, have students work in groups


Western eLearning Support – questions/consultations? Contact us via email.
Western's eLearning Toolkit


Boettcher JV (2011). Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online: Quick Guide for New Online faculty. Designing for Learning 2006-2013.

Lin H, Dyer K, Guo Y (2012). Exploring Online Teaching: A Three-Year Composite Journal of Concerns and Strategies from Online Instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 15(3).

Lloyd SA, Byrne MM, McCoy TS (2012). Faculty Perceived Barriers of Online Education.MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(1).

McKenzie BK, Mims N, Bennet EK, Waugh M (2000). Needs, concerns and practices of online instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 3(3).

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

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