The development of an effective curriculum is a continuous, multi-step process. You should develop digital content that is academically rigorous, highly engaging, and supports student success.

Click the links (bookmarks) below to navigate to each principle.

The seven principles of good practice when designing online learning include the following:

  1. Good practice encourages contact between students and teachers.

  2. Good practice develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.

  3. Good practice encourages active learning.

  4. Good practice gives prompt feedback.

  5. Good practice emphasizes time on task.

  6. Good practice communicates high expectations.

  7. Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Principle #1: Encourage contact between students and teachers

Frequent and timely student-teacher contact is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement, particularly in an online course. In addition to contact between you and your students, you should also contact the student's parent/guardian and Online Education Advisor (OEA) if you have concerns about academic progress.

In order to best serve our students, families, and school districts, use Genius email/messages and Moodle messages. When you communicate with students outside of Genius and Moodle, we have no record of the communication and it makes it more difficult to resolve academic issues later on.

NOTE: Make sure the parent/guardian is listed in the student's Genius account before you share any information.

eAcademy™ Teacher Expectations:

  • Send students a welcome message and email through Genius when they are enrolled in your course. If a student starts after the first week, make sure to be very specific where you want the student to begin in your course. If needed, excuse any prior graded items. Click here to view an excellent example of a welcome message.

  • Include a welcome message at the beginning of your course, which can be in a text, audio, or video format.

  • Respond to all student emails and messages daily.

  • Regularly send students progress reports, which include their grades to date.

  • Use positive comments when communicating with students and provide strategies to help students be successful in the short term and the long term.

  • Offer 15-20 minute optional synchronous learning sessions each week via Zoom, Google Meets, or Microsoft Teams that are recorded and shared with students. While students are not required to attend, you are required to offer these sessions. To learn more, review Guidance for Synchronous Learning Sessions.

Principle #2: Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students

Learning is enhanced when it's more like a team effort than a solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement in learning. Sharing one's own ideas and responding to others' reactions sharpens thinking and deepens understanding.

eAcademy™ Teacher Expectations:

  • Include a non-graded "Introduce yourself" forum at the very beginning of your course.

  • Use Moodle forums to provide opportunities for formal and informal discussions.

  • Have students work collaboratively on a project for a unit or a quarter.

When using forums for formal discussion, you need to grade the forum. Provide students with a prompt they'll answer and make sure to post the forum rubric in the assignment instructions. The forum rubric encourages high-level postings. Be sure to state the minimum number of postings required for each student for each discussion and hold students to the criteria listed in the rubric. Click here to review the Discussion Forum Assessment created by Dale Vidmar and Kay Sagmiller, Southern Oregon University.

Additionally, you can use forums for informal discussions, which don't need to be graded. An example of an informal discussion is a chat area where students can ask questions about each week's topic. Another informal discussion is the "Introduce yourself" forum. By introducing students to forums early in your course, you're creating a habit for them. When you create the "Introduce yourself" forum, add the first post and role model what you expect students to do. Make your response personal to create a connection to your students, but be aware of boundaries. Here are some example questions you could ask.

  • What is your name?

  • What grade are you in?

  • What is the name of your school district?

  • What is your favorite movie? (Ask a question that's related to your course subject.)

Principle #3: Encourage active learning

Active learning methods engage students in the learning process by encouraging them to discover, process, and apply information. Provide students with time and opportunity to learn to use and interact with the resources that you've provided.

Think beyond the standard assignments of reading a textbook and writing a paper or completing a worksheet. Think outside the box to find and utilize resources and activities for students.

eAcademy™ Teacher Expectations:

  • Create assignments where students think or write about their learning.

  • Create assignments that allow students to reflect, organize, apply, or evaluate information.

  • Provide opportunities for students to "customize" their learning by tailoring assignments to their personal interests.

Personalize the work and encourage self-expression. Instead of only providing one way to submit an assignment or project, give students two or three ways. Some examples of assignment submissions include the following:

  • Essays

  • Slides that include an audio recording

  • Multimedia presentations, which could include music and/or video

  • Graphic novels

  • Photographs and illustrations

  • Graphic organizers

Make sure to provide a rubric for each assignment option and apply the same number of points to each option.

As you collect samples of student work throughout your course, you can remove student names and provide examples and non-examples to future students. These samples become a portfolio of student work.

Principle #4: Give prompt feedback

One of the challenges associated with teaching and learning in eAcademy™ is that the participants lose the physical cues that confirm when someone is following the concepts and materials related to the course. To compensate for the lack of physical cues, eAcademy™ teachers must intentionally design online courses to include opportunities for giving and receiving feedback. Feedback can be creative; it does not always have to be in the form of formal, written messages to each student.

Provide students with positive, constructive, and meaningful feedback for all graded items including assignments, quizzes, and forums.

When providing feedback, make sure to note the student's strengths as well as any area where the student may need additional support. The feedback you provide appears in the Moodle and Genius gradebooks and is visible to students, parents, and Online Education Advisors (OEAs).

eAcademy™ Teacher Expectations:

  • Clearly communicate assignment grading criteria.

  • Grade all work within seven days of submission.

  • Provide feedback that is clear, positive, specific, and focused on observable behavior that can be changed.

  • Provide a student feedback survey at the end of your course, which allows for continuous improvement.

Click here to learn tips for using feedback in your online courses.

Principle #5: Emphasize time on task

The frequency and duration of study, as well as effective time management skills, are critical for students and professionals alike. Students need help in learning to manage and prioritize their study time.

eAcademy™ Teacher Expectations:

  • In your description and instructions, provide students with the approximate time it will take to complete any task, including assignments, quizzes, and forums (e.g., This assignment should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.).

  • Remember to name each topic or section using the following format: Week # - Content to be covered (e.g., Week 4: Multiplying and Dividing Integers). Instead of Week #, you could use Topic #, Section #, Lesson #, or Module #.

  • Remind students to use the Activities block on your course home page to view all assignments, quizzes, and forums at a glance. On the assignment page and the quiz page, students will be able to see all the due dates.

Additionally, it can be helpful to include the due date in the graded item's title (e.g., Week 1 Assignment 1: due 4/23/21). This is not a requirement, though.

Principle #6: Communicate high expectations

Effective teachers have high, but reasonable, expectations for their students. They clearly communicate those expectations and provide support to their students in their efforts to meet those expectations.

eAcademy™ Teacher Expectations:

  • Provide a detailed course syllabus that's placed at the beginning of your course.

  • Include course expectations that describe submitting original work, active participation, and any other behaviors you expect from your students.

  • Provide an anticipatory set (Big Idea, Essential Questions, and Objectives) at the beginning of your course and at the beginning of each week.

    • Explain why the students need to know about the course and weekly topic.

    • Explain why these ideas will make the student successful in your course.

    • Explain how the course activities reinforce the objectives.

  • Provide students with examples and non-examples of high quality work along with a discussion of the differences between them.

Principle #7: Respect diverse talents and ways of learning

Students bring different talents and styles of learning to the distance learning environment. Some bring a wealth of relevant experience to a course, while others may be new to the topic. Students need the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and to personalize their learning so that it's relevant to them.

Using assessments serves multiple purposes in the online environment. Assessments provide an opportunity to monitor student progress and performance throughout the term. They also provide an indicator of progress for students, which enables them to take on greater responsibility for their own learning.

Recommendations for using assessments in online courses:

  • Consider the use of ongoing, non-graded, and self-paced assessments to help students assess their own progress.

  • Align assessments with learning objectives. Assessments should not be an afterthought. Rather, course materials and assessments should be developed to match course objectives.

  • Develop assessments that not only measure a student’s progress and understanding, but also the ability to transfer skills and knowledge beyond the learning environment.

eAcademy™ Teacher Expectations:

  • Provide a wide variety of ways to assess your students including quizzes, discussions, essays, graphic organizers, research papers, and slide presentations.

  • Provide both formative and summative assessments.

    • Formative assessments, which are conducted during the learning process, evaluate how students are learning material throughout your course. Examples include forums and pre-tests that gauge baseline knowledge. Formative assessments help you to:

      • Understand whether or not your students are understanding your content

      • Accurately diagnose issues if your students aren't understanding your content

      • Provide the best solution and supports to get students up to the standards as quickly as possible.

    • Summative assessments are conducted at the end of the course and evaluate how much your students have mastered your content. Examples include chapter or unit tests and a final project or portfolio. Make sure to describe your summative assessments in the course syllabus so students have clear expectations.

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