Teaching Online Toolkit

The last few weeks have been emotionally overwhelming and difficult, including having to cancel our annual conference—a significant logistical undertaking—and working many hours to come up with an alternative arrangement. Our team at NISOD has also produced the Teaching Online Toolkit below for faculty members at our member community and technical colleges. The Toolkit includes particularly timely online teaching best practices compiled from our Innovation Abstracts and webinars, as well as from other sources. Our objective is the provide research and resources faculty members need so they can help their students be successful as they too transition to a mainly online environment.

Please stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and membership@nisod.org. We want to hear how the best practices below impacted student satisfaction, engagement, achievement, and retention in your online courses.

Innovation Abstracts

Each week faculty, administrators, and staff at NISOD member colleges receive Innovation Abstracts, NISOD’s flagship teaching and learning publication. Authors share their best ideas about programs, projects, and strategies that improve students’ higher education experiences.




Using the PMI+Q Method to Promote Critical Thinking in Online Discussion Forums In this Innovation Abstracts, Essie Childers, Professor, Humanities, Blinn College (TX), describes a method that ensures student discussion forums are engaging, reflective, and encourage critical thinking.


Metacognition Can Save Our Students In this Innovation Abstracts, Holly Whistler, Instructor, English, Nash Community College (NC), introduces metacognitive strategies to help students process new and complex information.


Beyond the Digital Roster: Ten Ways to Promote Multicultural Education in the Online Technical and Community College Classroom In this Innovation Abstracts, Jennifer Schneider, Team Lead, Adjunct Faculty, Southern New Hampshire University Global Campus (NH), offers strategies that generate inclusivity and equity for students in online classrooms.


Reducing Social Distance in the Online Classroom In this Innovation Abstracts, Emily McConnell, Adjunct Instructor, English, Pitt Community College (NC), provides tips for improving student success in the online learning environment.


Online Collaboration Strategies That Work In this Innovation Abstracts, Meghan McIntyre, Professor, Mathematics, Wake Technical Community College, explains how she creates community in online classes.


Creating a Flexible Learning Environment for Online Nontraditional Students In this Innovation Abstracts, Timothy Thornton, Assistant Professor, Career and Technical Education, and Letitia Bergantz, Assistant Professor, Instructional Design, Athens State University, provide a blueprint for helping nontraditional students succeed.


Developing Online Physical Education Courses In this Innovation Abstracts, Cindy Kelley, Assistant Professor, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Harford Community College, provides tips for transitioning a physical education course online.


An Emergency Field Guide to Helping Students Succeed in Online Classes In this Innovation Abstracts, “An Emergency Field Guide to Helping Students Succeed in Online Classes,” Susan Peek, Success Coach and Prior Learning Specialist, Wallace State Community College, describes three methods to help students transition to online learning.


Three Teaching Strategies to Use Today


In this Innovation Abstracts, Kristen Zaborski, Associate Professor, Economics, State College of Florida (FL), introduces Virtual Field Trips and Web Quests that any instructor can create to actively engage students in learning course materials.



Led by community and technical college leaders and other experts in the field, NISOD webinars enable faculty members to conveniently learn about best practices and cutting-edge research related to effective teaching. Each webinar includes action-oriented, measurable, and learning-focused objectives that will help faculty members improve their teaching techniques for online, hybrid, blended, and face-to-face courses.




Human Cannonballs and Evil Geniuses: Boosting Performance in Online Discussions Students often struggle with providing practical comments in online discussions and feedback forums. Even students who write meaningful and accurate responses to discussion questions find it difficult to leave substantive feedback for their peers. To alleviate these problems and boost performance, learn how to rewrite discussions prompts with a humorous edge and use guided peer replies to encourage more meaningful student responses.


Using Social Media for Active Learning


People use social media in their everyday lives to connect to people and information. However, it can be challenging to effectively leverage social media in the classroom. The benefits of using social media include increasing active learning, accessing authentic materials, and learner ownership of the learning environment and activities. This webinar addresses ways that social media can be used in formal class settings to support active learning using a knowledge activity framework. This framework helps instructors and learners focus on germane interactions and resources that support learning objectives and prepare learners for lifelong learning activities in the social media environment. The webinar covers initial steps for instructors who want to gradually use social media, as well as advanced ideas for using social media in the classroom. Practical and ethical issues are also discussed.


60 Free Software Tools in 60 Minutes During this webinar, discover free, but little-known, technology tools available for faculty, staff, administrators, and students to use for improving student engagement in the classroom, as well the workflow of everyday tasks. Participants leave with at least one tool they can immediately put to use. A total of 60 tools are presented to help increase engagement and efficiency across a variety of workflows!


Tools That Increase Student Engagement in Online Courses Today’s students are accustomed to continuous movement and visual stimulation. This session explores free and low-cost tools that can help increase student engagement in online courses. Tools that are discussed include Powtoon, audio editing, podcasting, screen capture software, streaming videos using PowerPoint, and more. The goal when using these tools is to reach students “where they are.” The webinar facilitator demonstrates each of the tools she uses in her classes and discusses the most appropriate uses of the tools for various subject matters, audiences, and learning objectives. In addition, with an eye towards new guidelines involving accessibility (i.e., Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Section 255 of the Communications Act), the facilitator also discusses using these tools to make your courses available to all students.


Establishing a Social Presence in the Online Environment Despite the increasing popularity of online courses, retention in these courses is much lower than their face-to-face counterparts. The content in both delivery methods is the same, so what’s the difference? One of the most obvious differences between traditional classes and online classes is a social presence. This webinar demonstrates establishing a social presence in online environments. These strategies have been tested at Nash Community College and the results are outstanding.


Social Presence in Online Learning: A Critical Literacy for Effective Online Experiences Recent research suggests that students continue to struggle with isolation and disconnectedness in online courses. This webinar addresses the importance of human connection in online learning and provides participants several easy-to-implement strategies to enhance social presence. The webinar facilitators consider social presence a critical literacy for online learning and, as evidence, they draw from their long-term research with instructors, students, as well as the research from other distinguished experts. Ultimately, because of the connection between student satisfaction and motivation, social presence, and retention rates, it is advantageous for educational institutions to encourage and support their faculty in integrating social presence strategies into their online and blended-learning environments. Webinar participants leave with several examples and strategies they can implement or adapt for their online learning courses and programs.


Online Courses: Increasing Learning Effectiveness This webinar provides insight into issues involving online courses, what students and teachers say about online learning, and how to use this information to deliver online courses effectively. Additionally, the webinar explores the three key aspects of online learning: learning objectives, detailing content, and delivering content. When more of the onus is on students—and with so much information readily available online—what is the role of instructors in online learning? Participants consider the role of instructors as facilitators to increase the effectiveness of online learning.


How Your Online Presence Boosts Student Learning Distance learning offers students increased access, adaptability, and agency. However, without an active and engaged faculty presence, online classrooms can be lonely and alienating places. As a result, student satisfaction, achievement, and retention can plummet. Fortunately, you can be the glue that holds your online learning community together without spending all of your time online. This webinar helps you become a better online instructor by providing you with practical insights and strategies for managing your online presence. During this session, you’ll learn best practices you can use to model the engaged and respectful interactions you’d like to see in your own courses.


Building Interest, Agency, and Interaction in Online Learning Environments Online learning allows for the flexible use of class-time for nontraditional students and telecommuting instructors while offering a way for colleges to expand their offerings without investing in brick-and-mortar classrooms. Online learning can also provide students with relevant technological skills while building important competencies such as self-learning, time management, research abilities, and academic writing skills. This webinar provides participants with the tools needed to construct online courses that build student agency and involvement, accommodate various learning styles, and provide support and encouragement to foster success. The framework provides the pedagogical rationale for each assignment, simple logistical and pragmatic considerations, content aimed at a variety of learning styles, and empowering students with a sense of personal efficacy. Specific methods for accomplishing these aims are discussed.


Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels: How to Prevent Cheating in Online Classrooms Cheating is a widespread and perennial problem in college classrooms, especially online classrooms. Learn why students cheat, ways that online faculty knowingly or unknowingly contribute to the cheating problem, and 18 strategies that can reduce or eliminate cheating in online classrooms.


Using Google Web Apps to Improve Student Engagement This webinar, based on the article found here, provides an overview of Google web apps that are useful for in-class collaboration, as well as tips for effectively using the apps. Webinar participants learn how to set up Google web apps for classroom use, how to design effective in-class discussion and collaboration sessions using Google web apps, and how to facilitate these collaboration sessions.


Announcing the NISOD Online Convenings

Since the coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the way all of us now function, we’re happy to announce that we’ve restructured our 2020 annual conference as a series of online convenings. These events will feature purposefully selected presentations originally planned for our annual onsite conference.

Best Practices for Teaching Online

Best Practices for Teaching Online (BPTO) is a competency-based online faculty professional development program, collaboratively developed, featuring online students and faculty at multiple institutions, and officially recognized by NISOD! BPTO incorporates universal standards into online teaching and learning while providing national recognition for faculty who successfully complete a series of openly accessible courses. The idea is to increase awareness of best practices at higher education institutions across the country and provide external recognition to online faculty at NISOD member institutions. Click here for additional information.

Free Webinar Series: Effective Online Instruction

ACUE (Association of College and University Educators) has assembled a group of nationally recognized experts in online teaching and learning for a series of virtual discussions about best practices in online teaching to ensure quality online instruction for student success.

Equity Unbound/One HE

Equity Unbound has teamed up with OneHE to develop some open educational resources for online community-building.

Toolkit: Getting Started With Remote Teaching

Practical techniques and expert advice from professors who have successfully made the leap to online teaching.

Books About Teaching Online (Courtesy of Beth McMurtrie, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes, by Flower Darby and James M. Lang.

Online Teaching at Its Best: Merging Instructional Design With Teaching and Learning Research, by Linda B. Nilson and Ludwika A. Goodson.

Minds Online: Teaching Effectively With Technology, by Michelle M. Miller.

The Ultimate Online Teaching Guide for Fall 2020

This guide explores the fundamentals of teaching online and share tools to help you accelerate your journey—and drive student success.

Low Tech? No Problem. Here are 3 Alternative Ways to Help Distance Learning Happen

Here are three alternative ideas for how to ensure students can learn from home when necessary.

Free and Discounted Ed Tech Tools for Online Learning During the Coronavirus Pandemic

This is a list of companies that are making their paid services free through the rest of the school year; others are lifting limits to services and/or adding premium features to what’s free.

Best Practices for Securing Your Virtual Classroom (Zoom)

Zoom comes pre-stocked with numerous security features designed to control online classrooms, prevent disruption, and help educators effectively teach remotely. Here are some best practices for securing your virtual classroom using Zoom.

8 Ways to Be More Inclusive in Your Zoom Teaching

Here are eight suggestions to help you keep inclusiveness in mind when remote teaching.

Zoom Best Practices

To help their faculty and students get the best experience using Zoom, South Puget Sound Community College has assembled these tips.

Online Education: Best Practices for Ensuring Student Success

The author, Josh Schwartz, who works to ensure TargetX’s focus on the mission of community colleges across the country, attended webinars, read articles, and tracked and researched the latest trends on online education to provide a few tips for faculty as they shift to the online learning environment.

Teaching Practices for Your Virtual Classroom

Learn the essential steps to follow when you plan and facilitate live sessions for virtual classes.

How Faculty Members Can Support Students in Traumatic Times

The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s collection includes articles on making the online pivot as smooth as possible, online teaching more empathetic and human, and coursework relevant and reflective.

Stay Updated

Sign up here to receive information about NISOD’s professional development resources, as well as interesting, useful, and compelling content of particular interest to community and technical college faculty, staff, and administrators.