Further resources to support articulation of good practice in online learning

Seven principles of effective teaching

In 1987 Chickering and Gamson (1987) published their now well known ‘Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.’ In the late 1990s Chickering and Ehrmann published a paper that examined how these principles could be interpreted as good practice in online teaching (Chickering and Ehrmann, 1996). That paper has been developed as an online resource with numerous examples of how the principles can be implemented using technology (see "Seven Principles" Collection of Ideas for Teaching and Learning with Technology). Here are the original seven principles.

Good Practice:

  1. Encourages Contacts Between Students and Faculty
  2. Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students
  3. Uses Active Learning Techniques
  4. Gives Prompt Feedback
  5. Emphasizes Time on Task
  6. Communicates High Expectations
  7. Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Excellent online teacher

Palloff and Pratt have published several books about learning and teaching online, including one (2011) on how to be an excellent online tutor.  We summarise the key elements here as:

The excellent online tutor:

  • is extremely visible to their students, establishing real presence as a real person
  • is responsive to their students
  • is respectful of their learners as partners in the learning process
  • is comfortable enough with the technology they are using to facilitate learning with it and to assist learners to use it effectively too
  • is knowledgeable enough about educational technologies to be able to select appropriate learning technologies for varying learning objectives
  • is flexible and willing to try new things

How do online tutors identify and share their inventories of good practice?

In the following video you will see three online distance learning tutors form Oxford Brookes University discuss examples of good practice from their respective online courses.  Perhaps you could identify some of the theoretical concepts and models, that the tutors are drawing upon?

Further trails to follow

As we’ve already alluded to, there are many concepts and theories about online learning out there. If you feel that none of the ones we’ve looked at so far provides a ‘good fit’ or you’d like to satisfy your curiosity a bit more, then you could follow other trails laid out in the 2013 Association for Learning Technologies (ALT) MOOC Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning (ocTEL).  The first week of ocTEL was titled ‘TEL Concepts and Approaches’ and it offers links to follow on:

  • Connectivism
  • Eric Mazur’s peer instruction
  • Socratic Method
  • Communities of Practice (Etienne Wenger)
  • Paulo Freire
  • Ivan Illich
  • Social Constructivism
  • Actor Network Theory
  • Emergent Learning Model


  • Chickering, A. and Ehrmann, S. C. (1996). "Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever." AAHE Bulletin October 1996: 3-6.
  • Chickering, A. W. and Gamson, Z. F. (1987). "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education."AAHE Bulletin March 1987: 3-7.
  • Mason, R. (2001). "E-learning: what have we learnt?".Improving Student Learning Using Learning Technology, edited by C. Rust: proceedings of the 2001 ninth International Improving Student Learning Symposium, Herriot-Watt University. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff & Learning Development, pp 27-34
  • Palloff, R. M. and Pratt, K. (2011). The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for Professional Development.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Last modified: Monday, 4 April 2016, 10:25 AM