Teaching Online: Useful Articles

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Online teaching prompt

We are all re-orienting to shelter-in-place life during the Covid-19 global pandemic! We’re trying to stay connected, and to keep making progress with teaching and learning, and with planning and conducting research. SAGE MethodSpace is offering resources to help: original posts, interviews, and open-access or library resources. Find the unfolding series at this link.

Sometimes scholarly articles offer practical advice. Find some in this collection!

This set of multidisciplinary articles includes proven approaches for working online with students. Clark-Ibáñez and Scott (2008) offer practical advice for instructors moving online. One aspect of online teaching and learning is temporal: we have to decide what we need to deliver synchronously and what should be exchanged in flexible asynchronous ways. When students cross time zones this thinking becomes essential to success. Oztok et al discuss these options. Students whose institutions have closed temporarily now find themselves at home, with a very different learning dynamic than what is present when they are in a dormitory with peers. And faculty might find they are now home-schooling their own children. Hutchison et al describe the home-school dynamic in the context of digital teaching and learning. The article from Andrew (2014) discusses ways to build community online with writers– and these ideas would apply to classes or cohorts of doctoral students using forms other than creative writing. Enjoy! If there are specific resources you are looking for to help in your transition to online teaching, send a message or post questions in the comment box.


Andrew, M. (2014). Community and Individuality: Teaching and Learning Insights From a Postgraduate Online Writing Program. SAGE Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244014544292

Abstract. How should lecturers teaching postgraduate creative writing in an online master of arts build and maintain e-community to support and socialize learners? The study proposes that such programs need to attend to writers’ investments in developing identities while promoting socialization and sense of belonging. Grounded in literature on communities of practice, imagined community, and identity, the study draws on social constructivist and poststructuralist insights and contributes to the relatively unexplored area of pedagogy for teaching writing online. The study uses qualitative descriptive analysis to narrate themes from two datasets in the form of a métissage. Data from lecturer-e-moderators and students indicate that strategic e-moderation encourages collaboration and maximizes pedagogical potential in forums. Strategic e-moderation builds a sense of community by fostering critical friendships. The study emphasizes the need for e-moderators to develop participants’ investments in working in communities. The study reveals that although postgraduate writing students come to value learning via critical friendships and communities, they also demand particularized feedback from e-moderators and peers. Findings suggest that students need to develop writing identities and voices can be met by a pedagogical approach that harnesses the potential of community while offering response to individual development. The study concludes that pedagogies of community in teaching writing online need to benefit both collectively and individually. This works when writers apply discipline-specific literacies and professional skills in critiquing peer texts, while responding to feedback from their community of practice, facilitated by e-moderators.

Clark-Ibáñez, M., & Scott, L. (2008). Learning to Teach Online. Teaching Sociology, 36(1), 34–41. https://journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/10.1177%2F0092055X0803600105/full

Abstract. The demand for online courses is growing. This paper offers suggestions on how to teach online courses that promote student engagement and learning. We discuss the benefits and challenges of teaching online. We share research-based strategies for designing an online course and draw upon our experience of developing fully online sociology courses. Practical suggestions include preparing students, promoting learning through the discussion board, managing communication, incorporating multimedia, and evaluating the course. Recommendations for modifying teaching strategies for the online environment are also included. Student comments from anonymous surveys convey the student perspective about taking online courses. Developing an online class is possible with early planning and an awareness of how to engage students.

Hutchison, K., Paatsch, L., & Cloonan, A. (2020). Reshaping home–school connections in the digital age: Challenges for teachers and parents. E-Learning and Digital Media, 17(2), 167–182. https://journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/10.1177%2F2042753019899527/full

Abstract. Imperatives to connect the worlds of home and school, evident in global policies of family engagement and partnership initiatives between teachers and parents to support children’s education are viewed as key dimensions of academic success. However, developing ways to meaningfully connect and engage teachers, parents and students in learning ecologies remains elusive, contested and increasingly complex in the digital age. Teachers are encouraged to draw on their students’ digital ‘funds of knowledge’ to create innovative learning opportunities and develop capacities for creativity and critical thinking. Despite significant research into creativity pedagogies and the inclusion of parents in policy documents urging for increased innovation in schooling, which often implies the use of digital technologies, parents are largely invisible in research into creative pedagogies. The data explored in this article are drawn from a larger project which adopted a teacher-as-inquirer approach to investigate teacher, student and parent experiences and understandings of innovative teaching designed to integrate creative and critical thinking with digital literacy practices. The analysis mobilises the key features of creative and innovative learning environments identified in the research literature to explore teachers’ initiatives to develop reflexive and innovative pedagogies and foregrounds the ways in which incorporation of digital media impacted on parental engagement in their children’s learning. Findings highlight significant challenges for schools and teachers to meaningfully and sustainably connect home and school learning which positions children, teachers and parents as agentic and creative.

Oztok, M., Wilton, L., Lee, K., Zingaro, D., Mackinnon, K., Makos, A., … Hewitt, J. (2014). Polysynchronous: Dialogic Construction of Time in Online Learning. E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(2), 154–161. https://journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/10.2304%2FELEA.2014.11.2.154/full 

Abstract. Online learning has been conceptualized for decades as being delivered in one of two modes: synchronous or asynchronous. Technological determinism falls short in describing the role that the individuals’ psychological, social and pedagogical factors play in their perception, experience and understanding of time online. This article explores the history of synchronous and asynchronous concepts and argues that an examination of students’ perception of time in online contexts is required if we are to move past asynchronous-synchronous dualities toward a more nuanced understanding of how time manifests itself and affects pedagogical practices. Bakhtin’s concept of the dialogic is used as a framework to explore how time in online learning has been reshaped through dialogue. A new description of time online as being polysynchronous is suggested and the illustrations provided explore the educational implications of this time shift on online discussions.

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