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Center for Innovation in Teaching & Research
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

Section 1.2: Effective Online Pedagogy

Online learning is not “slapping classroom content online” (O’Neil, Fisher, & Newbold, 2008, p. 18).  The use of a delivery mechanism, such as the Internet or Blackboard “should not define the pedagogical practice.” The technology should provide “the mechanism through which the online teacher implements the best pedagogy for that course or topic” (McVay et al., p. 6).

The online teacher must use technology to enhance the course content. By utilizing the positive aspects of technology, the online teacher can provide a quality educational learning experience. An effective online pedagogy is one that emphasizes student-centered learning and employs active learning activities. “Interactivity, faculty, and student presence are essential in an effective online learning environment” (O’Neil et al., p. 21).

Bill Pelz (2009), a Professor of Psychology and Sloan Consortium Award for Excellence in Online Teaching  winner,provides three principles of effective online pedagogy (p. 3):

  • Principle 1: Let the students do (most of) the work. The more time students spend engaged with the content, the more they will learn.
  • Principle 2: Interactivity is the heart and soul of effective asynchronous learning.
  • Principle 3: Strive for presence: social, cognitive, and teaching presence.

Methods for incorporating these principles and corresponding best practices into your online teaching and course are discussed in detail in Section 4.1: Student Engagement and Motivation.