Tips for Teaching Online

In addition to recommendations and instructions for tools and software that can be of use when moving your teaching to a virtual classroom, we would also like to share some general advice for teaching online [1].

1. Get professional advice and help if you need it

The e-Didactics team can help you with questions related to pedagogical scenarios, useful tools and technology and/or give you general advice about teaching online. Reach out to us at and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Or drop by our online video consultation. Your colleagues might also have some experience with and good advice about virtual classes; talk to people in your department about teaching online.  

2. Get the right technology that fits your purposes

Consider the type of course you have, especially the number of students, the type of work you expect them to do, and their levels of participation. Further information is available on the e-didactics website, which we will continuously update.

3. Get organized and expect additional time for preparing virtual classes

Good organization and planning can give you a sense of control and can help you choose the right tools and methodologies. Much like carefully planning the use of media and activities in a normal class, you should do the same for online classes. Consider that Stud.IP will be now the online equivalent of the physical campus. First you need to organize your virtual space for your course in Stud.IP. Consider the following tips:

  • Clarifying well-defined learning goals
    What should students learn after taking your class? What topics, theories and methods will your class focus on? What social skills or competences will your class help students acquire? In the given circumstances, make sure that these objectives are realistic and measurable.
  • Communicate a clear schedule
    Make sure to clearly state the times for online lecturing (if available), for individual and group online work, and deadlines for delivering tasks and assignments (and the specification of how to submit them). However, the current situation may require some flexibility. When it comes to deadlines, try to be considerate due to the given circumstances.  
  • Be ready to change the perspective
    Things that seem obvious to you might not be to your students. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations are very likely to occur. To minimize these, run things by critical readers, add in layers of explanation and be ready to clarify.
  • Communication does not happen on its own
    Make sure to organize regular teacher communication and presence. You can do so by offering, for instance, support and engagement in the forum, chat (Blubber) and videoconferences and/or regular and constructive feedback on students’ work. You can assign and asses students’ work in Clocked, use the comment section of students’ blog posts in WordPress, or use private messaging in Stud.IP. You should also set a time frame within which students should expect an answer in the forum or via private message (e.g., 48 hours during the work week). Bear in mind that misinterpretations can be common in written online communication, in the absence of facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. You can introduce rules for online communication and encourage students to actively participate in developing them. A profile picture helps create a more personable online presence.
  • Provide additional resources
    Links to (preferably digital) articles, further reading, videos, podcasts, websites, etc. can be very helpful to students. In case digital resources (books, articles, videos) are available through the university’s library system, you can provide a direct link to them via Stud.IP tool Literaturempfehlungen.
  • Structure different types of activity and engagement, if possible
    This will motivate students and help them achieve the course objectives.
  • Encourage peer to peer interaction
    Encourage students to meet occasionally online in a synchronous way (chats or videoconferences) in small teams (two to five students). Additionally, set up different online discussion forums, e.g. one for introductions at the beginning of the course (and ask students to add their profile pictures), others for topics with questions that you set for discussion around the course contents. This would help to build an online learning community in your course.

4. Avoid long lectures and break the course into “bitesize” segments

Keep online lectures to no more than 20 minutes – or break them into 15-minute self-standing chunks with activities for students immediately after each chunk. The presentation should cover the outline of the main topics, or the key points in an extended argument, allowing students to do further research on the details, through further reading or video examples. Look for open educational resources (short OER[2]) that already exist and are free for educational use. In this way, you do not have to present everything yourself. Don’t try to just replicate the lecture course; rather try to think about the opportunities that the new medium brings – asynchronous discussion, online collaboration, different resources you can draw upon, a range of tools, etc.

Think about the amount of work you expect students to do

Make sure to decide in advance how much work students should invest into this course every week. Consider the following: How much time should they spend listening to your presentation? How much time should they spend doing independent work? How can you make sure that your students are engaged and don’t feel isolated and left alone in this course? Bear in mind that some activities that can be done rather quickly in class will take additional time online – especially group work. Be sure to factor that in when preparing class activities.

In the meantime, while fears and worries around the corona-virus last, we wish you good luck with moving your courses online and are more than happy if we can assist you.

[1] The information in this document is based on:
Bates, T. (2020). Advice to those about to teach online because of the corona-virus. In: Online Learning and Distance Education Resources (Blog). Retrieved 25.03.2020, from, licensed under Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
Weller, M. (2020). The COVID-19 online pivot. In: The EdTechie (Blog). Retrieved 25.03.2020, from, licensed under Creative Commons license: CC BY 4.0.

[2] You can find information about OER here: and videos about different aspects of OER here: