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  4. Elements of Good Online Learning

Elements of Good Online Learning

In order to facilitate learning that meets the needs and demands of online students, instructors should engage in intentional course design. Below are suggestions for constructing course elements that support good online learning.

A Framework for Online

A student’s experience of an online course is largely determined by a few things. Below are some principles to help orient you in crafting a successful experience for your students.  These ideas are grounded in the work of Dr. Michael G. Moore, a pioneer in the area of distance education.  (For more on Transactional Distance Theory, see here.) This will help frame online teaching in general as well as the other resources we have prepared for you below.

Bridge the Distance through…


Be organized and consistent


Be there and be clear


Offer choice and self-assessment

Engage Students with…

Other Students

Build peer connections


Be involved throughout


Bridge theory and practice

Instructional Strategies for Successful Online Courses

You can view the strategies below, grouped by topic. You can also download a PDF copy of this page by clicking here.

Course Content

More of these…

  • Vocabulary or key word/concept lists
  • Study guides
  • Roadmaps or outlines
  • Accessible text content (HTML, Properly Formatted Word or PDF Documents)

Less of those…

  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Image-Based PDF documents
  • Word docs with poor formatting


More of these…

  • Screencasts (10 minute max)
  • Case studies
  • Evaluations (peer, group)

Less of those…

  • Long recordings (anything longer than 10 minutes)


More of these…

  • “Chunked” videos (5-7 minutes) by topic
  • Screencasts (7-10 minute max)
  • High quality or professional videos with Closed Captioning (CC) and transcripts

Less of those…

  • Videos or screencasts longer than 10 minutes
  • Videos without Closed Captioning or transcripts


More of these…

  • Asynchronous discussions (dyads, small group, and whole class)
  • Group projects
  • Group presentations
  • Podcasts
  • Embedded quizzing/polling
  • Student-led/determined synchronous sessions
  • Student-created/collaborative course content

Less of those…

  • Unmonitored group work (progress and participation)


More of these…

  • Projects
  • Presentations (group and individual)
  • Products/deliverables
  • Case studies
  • Rubrics
  • Evaluations (peer, group)
  • Low stakes assessments
  • Scaffolded assignments

Less of those…

  • Proctored tests (use of proctored tests is dependent upon the field and/or departmental requirements)
  • Attendance points


More of these…

  • Technological tools to support learning objectives/based on goals
  • User-friendly, purposeful, affordable for students
  • Tools integrated with UGA’s eLC platform

Less of those…

  • Multiple tools requiring extensive experience or training before use
  • Multiple tools to accomplish a singular task
  • Technology that does not account for accessibility guidelines