3.2 Online pedagogy

Effective online pedagogy is one that emphasises student-centred learning and employs active learning activities. “Interactivity, faculty, and student presence are essential in an effective online learning environment.”
(O’Neil et al., 2004, p. 21).


Whether you are teaching face-to-face or online, the basis of teaching remains the same. However, the form of interaction may change.  There remains a strong emphasis on content, pedagogy and assessment.

  • Content: What are the core concepts or ideas that we want our students to learn in a particular class, lecture, tutorial, module, and course?
  • Pedagogy: What is the most effective way that we can get our students to engage with the material to understand these concepts and maximize learning? In particular, how should students engage with the material (a) before the class (asynchronously); (b) during class (synchronously); and (c) after class (asynchronously)?  **Remember: Pedagogy before Technology
  • Assessment: How can we assess and assure students’ understanding and learning of the material most effectively?

Principles of effective online pedagogy

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

The interaction perspective

Developing high levels of student engagement in online learning is dependent on interaction.

We need to design and foster learning and teaching that incorporates the opportunity for students to engage in the following types of interactions in online learning environments (Moore, 1989):

  • Learner-instructor interaction
  • Learner-learner interaction
  • Learner-content interaction

In the video below, Dr. Erika Smith (Mount Royal University, Associate Professor and Faculty Development Consultant) illustrates important ways that educators can foster three key types of online interaction in remote teaching and learning. Examples and strategies for balancing asynchronous and synchronous approaches to these educational interactions are also provided.


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