online learning best practices

10 Essential Online Learning Best Practices

Teachers are moving from face to face classrooms to online classrooms quickly. Top online course designers who have also taught face to face tell us how. I had so many people ask for the video. Here is the video and infographic to help you.

Advancement Courses sponsored this webinar. Check out their free 3-hour micro course, Launching Online Learning. 

I recommend Advancement Courses for online teacher professional development with over 280 courses. Use the code COOL20 to receive 20% off your teacher professional development.

Outline of Conversation (Direct Links)

0:31 Introductions

4:24 What teachers are saying during the coronavirus stay-home orders

8:38 Emotional Stress, Kids, and Self-Care

10:32 How children respond to trauma

13:35 The problem with being too rigid

13:55 What makes effective distance learning

18:10 Consistent layout in online learning

18:54 Don't start from scratch

19:28 Translating direct instruction online

21:41 Grouping online

23:54 One on one instruction online

25:29 Administrators and online bell schedules

26:33 Accessibility and equity

32:10 Assessment in online learning and tools (formative assessment)

34:50 Summative Assessment options

37:28 Project-based learning online

41:30 Accountability and student engagement in online learning

42:52 Making time for teacher PD

43:08 “Class Captains” to help moderate backchannel chats

43:18 Orientation for online learning

44:00 Tools and Tips

44:28 Formative assessment tips

45:38 Encouragement and reminders for teachers everywhere

10 Essential Online Learning Best Practices

In this webinar, we cover:

  • Where we are now and the struggles we face
  • Emotional trauma and learning
  • What makes effective distance learning (and how it is different from face to face)
  • Instructional design best practices
  • Creating lessons
  • Translating face to face to online including grouping, small groups and one on one time
  • Accessibility and equity
  • Assessment
  • Project-based learning online

Infographic with the ten essential principles

online learning best practices

Biographies of Presenters


Dawn Stansbury

Instructional Designer @Advancement Courses
Dawn Stansbury is an Instructional Designer for Advancement Courses. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Morningside College and a Master's Degree in Educational Administration from the University of South Dakota. She is also a former teacher and principal, leading one of the first elementary STEM schools in the state of Iowa. As an educational leader, Dawn is passionate about providing educational opportunities to students and educators alike. Through Advancement Courses, she is proud to be a part of providing valuable resources to the world of education.

Megan Reynolds

Instructional Designer @Advancement Courses
Megan Reynolds is a former Title I teacher from Lexington, KY, and a current Instructional Designer for Advancement Courses. She is passionate about community involvement and utilizing educational technology. She left the classroom to support K-12 teachers nationally by creating professional development. She currently holds a Masters in Instructional Design with a certificate in distance learning and is obtaining her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction.

Danielle Strohmeyer

Instructional Designer @Advancement Courses
Danielle Strohmeyer is an instructional designer for Advancement Courses. She develops courses that support the professional growth needs of educators across the country and specializes in recertification and helping teachers advance in their careers. As the former primary and middle school assistant principal of an international school, she cultivated a staff of educators from around the world. She led the design of ELA, social studies, and SEL curricula to support learners of all abilities. She received her M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Ball State University. Over the course of her career, she has appeared in multiple publications for groups such as the Shanghai Institute for International Curriculum Research.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored webinar.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Noa Marting April 13, 2020 - 2:15 pm

I really appreciated how the first essential principle you listed was focusing on your students’ physical and mental health. During this pandemic, many people are having changes in their physical and mental health. Some children are not getting physical activity everyday, eat snacks instead of meals because their parents aren’t home during the day, missing out on fresh fruits and veggies, playing hours of video games each day, etc. When it comes to their mental health, this pandemic brings a lot of anxiety and fear onto even the littlest of people. Some children do not understand why they can’t see their teacher and friends anymore. School is a huge part of children’s lives and it all went a way so quickly. I know even as an adult college student, my mental health has been suffering from anxiety and not having a normal schedule. I can’t imagine how little first graders would be feeling right now. That is why I admired you for putting students’ mental and physical health as the first essential principle. It is so important to see our students as people like us. The other principle I thought was super important was #2, relationships. Understanding what your students’ may be going through right now, and keeping that positive relationship through that. “Relationships are the heart of instruction.” I loved that. If we want our students to learn from us, we have continue positive relationships. This totally can be trickier over the computer, but almost more important during this pandemic. I have seen a lot of teachers in my hometown sending letters out to their students. My boyfriend’s little sister has her’s hanging up in her room. Those little things create positive relationships. It truly is the little things!!

Really enjoyed your post,
Noa Marting

Olivia Campbell April 13, 2020 - 4:11 pm

I am learning about online practices in the classroom and how to most efficiently use them in my Educational Technology and Design class at the University of Northern Iowa. Teaching safe online practices to students is essential since the internet is one of the best resource to use in the classroom. Teaching student this will help keep themselves and others safe online. This also opened my eyes of the teachers part of interest safety and usage. Using the interest to its fullest is the goal in the classroom and this helped me learn additional information on how to do that as a teacher.


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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere