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This module focuses on strategies that instructors can use to promote effective interaction in an online environment. This module is part of the Best Practices in Online Teaching Course created by Penn State University World Campus as a guide for faculty who are new to teaching in an online environment.

What to do?

Photo by Simon Stratford, You Got Mail, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/6444

Effective online instructors provide a good role model for active participation and interact frequently with their students to create a sense of learning community.

How to do it?

  • Respond to student comments or questions within time frames set at beginning of the course
  • If circumstances require you to change the time frame for responses, notify students beforehand and provide new time frames. ( Example1 )
  • If you will be unavailable for some period during the semester (i.e., traveling), notify students beforehand. ( Example 2 )
  • Provide general feedback to the entire class on specific assignments or discussions. ( Example 3 )
  • Provide specific encouragement and comments to students who have completed assignments. (For more information about support, please see Provide Feedback and Support)
  • Provide meaningful feedback on graded assignments with recognition of good work as well as specific suggestions for improvement. ( Example 4 )
  • Provide a weekly “wrap up” before the next lesson begins.
  • Introduce a new week with an overview (including deadlines) of what is coming up. ( Example 5 )

Emails sent to class about changes in response time

Dear Class,

I have had to unexpectedly leave town for a death in the family. I will be available through e-mail for the next few days, but my e-mail access may be sporadic. I will do my best to be in touch with you as soon as possible. I am still in the process of grading your assignments, and will not have them done by the end of today, as I had hoped. I appreciate your patience and understanding at this time. I am not sure when I will be back in town, but will address any questions/concerns through e-mail.

I am attaching your project assignment to this e-mail. The project is not due until the end of week 8, but some of you have been asking for this information. Now you have it if you want to get a head start on this.

--Bryanne Cordeiro

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Travel delays

Example 2 - Travel Delays

Hi Class,

OK, so I'm headed to Pompeii tomorrow, which means that there may be another slight delay in my access to the Internet, but I suspect all will be fine. It turns out that, overall, Italy is just as capable of ANGEL access as the US, so there shouldn't be a problem. But, I wanted to make you aware of the possible situation under which a day or two might pass between now and my next computer time.

I hope this isn't too big of deal, and I again appreciate your patience!

Ciao, Jason

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Sample feedback provided to a class

The stuff a lot of you found on-line for the attitudes discussion is great! Very interesting! You should take some time to check out what everyone else posted if you get the chance. One of your fellow students even found a satisfaction survey on-line. Others found great advice from managers about how to deal with angry employees and customers. Neat stuff!

Amie Skattebo

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Feedback on graded assignments

ANGEL email sent to class, ESL 015, Fall 06

Hi class, Here's my feedback in your work on the summary of Lean's article.

What I was looking at:

  • if you have explicitly and clearly summarized the points as to why numerical grading system is not appropriate. Don't just say it's bad because it's unfair: Lean explained why it is unfair and how it can be detrimental to the students.
  • if you sum up the points as to why descriptive reports on the students might be a better way to replace the numerical grading. You need to include claims and assumptions about why this system would work better. His claim might be "descriptive way works better", but his assumption can be the reasons why that would work better. Let me see, as your reader, why Lean was supporting the descriptive way.
  • how you citied his examples in your own words to support points 1) and 2).

Please review your summary and see if you have stated all of these three points. Again, I would welcome your further revision on your summary.

Thank you. K. Park

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Sample message introducing a new week

Hi, 451'ers. I hope that you are all having a good week!

I just wanted to remind you that this week's case (based on the Hartwick Case on MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail) is due on Sunday. It is an individual assignment, and so far only one individual has completed it.

Looking ahead to next week, your group will need to complete another movie case by 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 9. I suggest that you start determining which movie your group will watch/discuss so that everyone can view it and respond in time. Your movie choices include: Remember the Titans, Apollo 13, and Lord of the Flies.

Plus, keep progressing on your final group project. Be sure to get in touch with your interviewees and conduct your interviews as soon as possible!

Dr. L

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Voice of experience

To hear insights from experienced online instructors about preparing for online teaching, access any or all of the following interviews. Please make sure your audio is enabled.

Jonathan mathews

Mathews - suggestions for new instructors regarding online interactions (mp3)

Alfred turgeon

Alfred turgeon - managing student interactions (interviewed by larry ragan) (mp3)

Why do it?

"Teacher presence online (Anderson et al., 2001; Murphy, Smith&Stacey, 2002) is important in structuring and facilitating an effective online learning experience, and helping to establish an online learning community among the students" (Wilson&Stacey, 2004).

"Reinforcing and modeling good discussant behaviors can be helpful to encourage courtesy and interaction" (Berge, 1995).

“Instructor involvement and engagement in online learning is crucial. Online learning requires instructors to take on active roles in facilitating students’ learning. As well as peer support, instructor presence in supporting and guiding students’ learning and engagement are important for enabling active learning” (Vonderwell&Turner, 2005, p.82).


Berge, Z.L. (1995). Facilitating Computer Conferencing: Recommendations from the Field. Educational Technology, 35(1), 22-30

Vonderwell, S.&Turner, S. (2005). Active learning and preservice teachers’ experiences in an online course: A case study. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(1) , 65-84

Wilson, G., Stacey, K (2004). Online interaction impacts on learning: Teaching the teachers to teach online. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(1) , 33-48

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Best practices in online teaching. OpenStax CNX. Aug 28, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10453/1.2
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