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10 Principles of effective instruction adapted for online teaching

Although the main principles of instruction (based on cognitive science, the work of master teachers and learning strategies) are applicable in classrooms, they need a little tweak to work for online teaching. Read on to see how you can adapt them for the online environment.


  1. Review the previous lesson

    Successful teachers spend five minutes at the start of each meeting focusing on the previously learned concepts. Presentations, online assignments, and short videos are great because students recall important information through practice.


  2. Teach information gradually

    Introduce new material step by step to prevent overwhelming students. Divide lessons into smaller sections, present new topics in different ways, drip content and summarize each step at the end of the lesson.


  3. Ask many questions

    Questions are a good way to make sure that everyone understands the material. You can use slide presentations, forums or discussion groups to keep the conversation going. Additionally, use the “raise your hand” Zoom feature to ensure that students agree with an answer.


  4. Provide models

    Providing models and examples in online classes is simple. You can use multimedia presentations to teach different concepts. Videos are just as good for sparking a discussion on different topics. For example, why do birds migrate?


  5. Guide student practice

    Start giving more examples after teaching the material and ask students to do the same. Create quizzes, incorporate fun games for guided practice and experiment with game shows. Guided practice makes them more independent learners.


  6. Promote more online interaction

    The most effective teachers check for understanding and anticipate misconceptions. Ask students to summarize or explain out loud certain concepts. Additionally, divide the class in groups and organize debates in which your students have to defend their position.


  7. Aim for a high success rate

    Assessing students' responses in live meetings is challenging. However, you can provide more models and explanations, check their understanding through quizzes, and look at the LMS analytics function to see each student’s progress.


  8. Provide scaffolds

    Difficult tasks require additional examples and models. To help students practice better, you can use microlearning, offer hints, examples of dos and don'ts, go over pre-taught notions at the start of the lesson and anticipate errors.


  9. Encourage independent practice

    Independent practice solidifies knowledge. However, it’s important to make sure that students have had enough practice before assigning homework. Then you can divide them into smaller groups, encourage conversation in forums, chats, groups or use virtual flashcards.


  10. Review materials frequently

    Practice strengthens connections in the brain. Therefore, you need to revisit old material, give out plenty of resources, and review older concepts through quizzes. Your LMS can notify you when students struggle to master a skill or a concept so that you can take action.


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