Teaching strategies of Award-winning Online Instructors

Teachers are attempting to change their curriculum as quickly as possible, and many are conducting their first-ever remote teaching sessions. Experience counts, and attempting to teach our pupils in this new method when everything else is going on may be challenging.

Fortunately, new research published in the open-access journal Online Learning by Swapna Kumar, Florence Martin, Albert Ritzhaupt, and Kiran Budhrani reveals the tales of a group of eight award-winning online instructors with a combined 109 years of experience teaching online courses. The authors of the study spoke with university professors about their approaches to online learning. These methods apply to K–12 kids as well, because the instructors stress things like appropriate course materials, a flexible approach to student work, and the value of reflection in learning—all of which we promote in our classes.

Things from the interviews about how the teachers came up with their award-winning class designs.


Although there is a lot of internet stuff to link to and reference, using actual primary materials to anchor learning is a terrific approach to do so. Authentic sources, real instances, and cases drawn from history or nature give context and subtlety that hypothetical designs or made-up examples typically lack.

Students’ critical thinking and engagement may be boosted by asking them to study and comprehend source materials and relevant content. The instructors who participated in the study provided the following examples:

“Snippets from a weekly radio broadcast that was connected to course subjects and that student were supposed to discuss in class” 

This list of ten notable historical broadcasts, for example, may be shared by a history instructor.

“Courtroom videos and audio recordings of prosecutors discussing various parts of legal matters.” On Oyez, students may listen to live arguments in a variety of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including the Bush v. Gore election-related case from 2000.


It’s also crucial to deliver content in a range of forms when it comes to external media. A course may be made more interesting by using video, audio, text, and interactive content. It also increases a course’s accessibility: If a certain medium is a sole method to interact with information, students who struggle with it—those with a reading barrier such as dyslexia or a video barrier such as hearing or concentration problems—are at a significant disadvantage.

The following are some good instances of mixed-media approaches:

In a history lecture, show students a radio broadcast, newspaper pieces, and an interactive map. Students can then look for common themes in all of the resources. Request that students provide a summary of a theme in a work of literature based on a passage from the book, a television interview with the author about the book, and a series of web or print comics that mention the book


Students can demonstrate their involvement with the above-mentioned rich educational resources by developing equally rich products. Opportunities for children to collaborate and express themselves independently should be included in the items they make. Several instances are given by the study’s instructors:

“After selecting a theme that linked to their subject-matter knowledge and connected course content to their lives, students developed digital tales utilizing tools such as Photo Story or PowerPoint.”

“Students were obliged to read and prepare brief summaries of important articles or texts.”

“Students debate the pros and downsides” of a course subject online. Debates can be synchronous (using Zoom or other video conferencing software) or asynchronous (not using Zoom or other video conferencing software) (using VoiceThread or even just a discussion board).


Teachers must be purposeful in helping students reflect in an online context because reflection and metacognition are fundamental to learning in any situation. The authors of the research underline that their teachers’ reflection activities extended beyond testing understanding—quizzes, discussion posts, podcasts, and articles were interwoven with prompts to help students reflect on their learning.


Students should also look forward to seeing how their future work will continually improve on what they’ve previously accomplished. Although teachers may not want to divulge all of the details of their class plans, every student should be aware of how they are attempting to improve. Because the interlinking of our course content might be lost in an online format, the links between activities should be emphasized (and repeated) so students can understand how everything fits together.

As one instructor in the research put it, “you can’t just take your content from class and put it online.” We must modify our education for the online medium, carefully selecting subjects and then creating engaging exercises to keep students interested while working independently.

Carter Martin

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