Tips For Teaching an Effective Online Course, CAMPBELL
Tips for Teaching an Effective Online Course (with Good
Student Achievement and High Student Satisfaction)
Michael Campbell 10‐9‐09
a) A study I did demonstrated about equal learning and
student satisfaction in online and onsite sections of Acct
233 Principles of Accounting I.
b) I have taught these accounting courses online: Principles
1 & 2, Intermediate 1 and Governmental Accounting.
Student satisfaction has been high.
c) I chair the department. We have 20 full time and 10
part‐time faculty. I get all the student complaints.
d) The purpose of this presentation is to mention some
specific methods that have resulted in good outcomes
for student learning and student satisfaction in online
e) Plan for the presentation: Course setup, Before the
course begins, Course operation, End of course activities
2) Course setup. Course set up is much more time consuming
for an online course. Proper course setup can reduce
instructor time required during the course.
a) Modules and content items.
b) Use of Announcements or News items.
c) Consider a Syllabus Quiz to ensure students know the
basic “rules” of the course.
d) Personal Introduction Threaded Discussion.
e) I use two Chats – Initial and before Exam 1. Students
really appreciate these chats.
f) Homework & solutions. Put specifics about assignments
in only 1 place—the syllabus or course schedule. In
content items, ask students to refer to the course
schedule for specific assignments and due dates. This
will allow you to change assignments in only 1 place .
g) Create exams using exam pools.
h) I give Sample Exams & solutions, and students earn
points for the Sample Exams.
i) Use publishers’ online resources. No need to duplicate
these in the course shell, e.g., narrated Ppt, Quizzes, etc.
j) Consider ways to engage students in the course.
i) Chats, especially the first chat.
ii) Threaded discussions (TDs). (I have not used these
much except for personal introductions and student
questions segregated by Chapter.)
iii) Group activities. Consider making the group work
mandatory if you decide to use groups. Voluntary
groups have not worked well for me.
3) Before the course begins
a) Set access dates for assignment solutions, quizzes,
exams, etc. Hide things you don’t want students to see.
b) Send emails before the course starts with Syllabus and
homework schedule and any special information the
students may find useful before the course begins, so
there are no first day surprises. Must use students’
preferred email addresses, since they won’t have access
to the course yet.
c) Post initial announcements/news items , e.g., “How to
take this course”, “Initial things to do”, etc., that will be
available the first day of class.
d) Depending on your system, you may be able to use
announcements from previous semesters and just set
new dates on announcements so they will appear
automatically when students are working on specific
areas or assignments. This worked well in eCollege.
4) Course operation
a) Recognize that some students are likely to encounter a
variety of issues early in the semester, from computer
and other technical problems, to not receiving their text
book on time. Allow flexibility early in the course.
b) Send lots of emails. Put the course number in the
Subject area, e.g., Acct 233. Ask your students to do the
same. Depending on your system you may want to set
up a folder to capture these emails. This will provide a
separate area for a record for the whole course.
c) Copy the whole class on most emails that you send,
including responses to student questions, and consider
also posting them as Announcements/News items.
d) Review some homework and provide some feedback.
Consider using a tablet PC for this. I also print papers,
make my comments, scan them and email back the
paper with my comments.
e) Consider using homework manager or similar software.
It has worked OK. I am working on getting the import
grades feature set up.
f) Make solutions available the day after assignments are
due. Tell students frequently that this is one method you
use to provide very detailed feedback, but it requires
some effort on their part.
g) Encourage students to call or email with questions, and
respond very quickly. I often respond immediately.
h) Make interaction with students positive and
encouraging. Student dissatisfaction often seems to
have resulted from the attitude or expectations of the
instructor or failure of the instructor to communicate
promptly or frequently with students.
i) Answer all student questions respectfully and
completely, even when they should know they answer.
Avoid telling students just to read the text or to read the
announcements or course syllabus. This type of
response probably will not get the student response the
instructor wants and it may dampen students’
enthusiasm for the course and the instructor.
j) Allow flexibility, e.g., drop the lowest 3 homework
scores, quizzes, etc. Allow people to submit assignments
late and even take exams late if they have reasonable
k) Recognize that students may encounter a variety of
problems on exams, especially on the first exam, so be
flexible. Let students know about possible problems and
how to handle them, e.g., a windstorm disrupts Internet
service during an exam, the Internet will time students
out after 25‐45 minutes of no activity while they are
taking an exam. Use exam pools to create exams that
will be substantially different for each student.
l) If you are teaching an onsite section of the course, create
an exam for the onsite section by using the exam pool
created for your online course.
m) If you are concerned about cheating, consider requiring a
proctored exam, perhaps the comprehensive final exam.
Put this possibility in your course syllabus and be ready
to assist students in finding a proper proctored situation.
n) Let students know that exams will be open book, open
note, but set time limits on exams after which the exams
close automatically. Or, assess a penalty if additional
time is excessive. Let students know the policy.
o) Consider quizzes. Maybe use them as means to help the
students learn the material as opposed to evaluation
instruments. Consider giving twice as much time as
necessary on the quizzes and even encouraging students
to look up answers if they need to.
p) Find ways to get students to use the learning aids at the
text publishers’ websites. Consider some type of
5) End of course activities
a) Encourage students to complete the course assessment.
Must coordinate this with when the assessment form will
be made available to students, because they may have
only 1 opportunity to complete the course assessment.
b) Provide course‐to‐date score information well before the
final exam, so students know exactly where they stand.
May need to prepare a separate grade book in an Excel
spreadsheet to allow for dropping some of the
homework and quiz scores. May need to email separate
Excel spreadsheets to each student to provide only his or
c) For students that do well in the course, send them an
email to let them know they did well and might want to
consider accounting or ??? as a major and offer to meet
with them to discuss it.
a) Create the course to make it doable for the instructor
given the available resources, constraints, enrollment,
etc. I created a lot of work for myself this.
b) The keys are to be respectful until it hurts, respond
quickly and find ways to demonstrate that you are
actively participating in the course. I do 2 chats, do
frequent emails and announcement posting and respond
immediately to student emails. Other faculty do
frequent threaded discussions with feedback or do
extensive feedback on numerous assignments.