Didactical tips for online teaching

Didactical tips for online teaching

You are going to give your education online. How do you approach that and what do you have to consider as a teacher?

In order to ensure that your online sessions are valuable for you as a teacher and for the students, we give you several didactical tips.


1. Provide clear, structured instruction

  • Create a clear set-up of a course environment (e.g., use modules to structure the journey from start to end).
  • In your online instruction, clearly indicate what the topics and learning objectives are: What can or do students know at the end of this educational activity?
  • Make sure not to offer too much learning material or learning objectives at the same time but divide it into clearly delineated pieces.
  • Provide clear and explicit communication of expectations and deadlines.
  • Indicate how long learning activities are expected to take (e.g., you can indicate approximate study time in Canvas module titles).


2. Interaction during the online lecture

Just as with a lecture in a lecture hall, interaction is important to activate and involve students.

  • Try to add an interactive element every 10-15 minutes, for example by asking questions using Mentimeter. As a teacher, this also gives you insight into how far the students have understood the explanation.
  • At an online lecture / webinar, provide clear times when students can ask their questions via webcam or chat. You can indicate this at the start of the lecture, so that students can prepare for this.


3. Activate prior knowledge

Ensure that students can link the new knowledge to existing knowledge by activating prior knowledge at the beginning of your online instruction.

  • Make a short video in which you introduce the new material.
  • Write a short text about the new subject matter.
  • Give students an online quiz in which students can test their prior knowledge (in Canvas).
  • Make an advance organizer, in which the course material is structured and linked to what students already know. You can do this with, for example, a graphic representation or by asking questions about the material that students have already had. A graphic representation can also be used as a roadmap you can refer to throughout the course.


4. Active processing

Effective learning requires active processing. Active processing contributes to structuring the material and helps students to experience where their understanding or knowledge is sufficient or insufficient. Therefore, offer activating exercises for the processing of the content.

  • Ask questions to which students can submit their answers digitally (using Canvas).
  • Have students explain something (on video or in writing) to another person, for example by explaining what they have learned in their own words or explaining how they have solved a problem.
  • Have students create a table or a mindmap with the most important concepts, their definitions and how they relate to each other.


5. Use examples

Examples are very effective for learning and therefore good to offer, especially when it comes to new learning material.

  • Use worked examples, which are examples in which you write out the solution to a problem including the intermediate steps required. Explain what considerations are made with each step.
  • Include a modeling example, which is an example in which you step by step provide the procedure or solution and explain why you take certain steps.


6. Support with difficult assignments

Assignments should correspond to the level of control students have of the material at that time. Students need support for more complex assignments. This is also called scaffolding, which is to support students in the first phase after the instruction moment and to phase it out as the student has a better understanding of the material.

  • Provide students support by giving hints, suggestions and/or questions. You can organize this by using a chat function or using the discussion forum and indicating when these questions will be answered.
  • Another option is to collect questions via the discussion forum and to answer these questions in a video.


7. Assessment for learning

Practice tests contribute to learning and gives both you and students insight into the degree to which they master the material and where possible additional explanation or support is needed.

  • Offer digital practice tests for students (in Canvas).
  • Provide the students with good feedback. This can be built in automatically with the digital online test.
  • Let students formulate questions about the subject matter themselves. As a teacher, you could then use this test to retrieve the prior knowledge in a subsequent teaching moment.



Surma, T., Vanhoyweghen, K., Sluijsmans, D., Camp, G., Muijs, D., & Kirschner, P. A. (2019). Wijze lessen: Twaalf bouwstenen voor effectieve didactiek. www.ou.nl/web/wijze-lessen

See also: https://www.ou.nl/documents/846784/846881/OW_WijzeLessen_Poster_.jpg/0ff3a8fd-b3de-7ad3-8e03-9a37ca192971?t=1569488801869