Essentials of Online Teaching: A Standards-Based Guide, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Essentials of Online Teaching

A Standards-Based Guide, 1st Edition

By Margaret Foley McCabe, Patricia González-Flores


304 pages | 402 B/W Illus.

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Teachers’ active online participation and engagement with students are critical factors to the success of online courses. Essentials of Online Teaching is a standards-based, straightforward guide to teaching online in higher education, high school and vocational training, or corporate learning environments. This brief but powerful book encourages immediate application of concepts with the help of real-world examples, technical insights, and professional advice.


The guide includes:

  • a practical approach informed by, but not about, relevant learning theories;
  • clear models and examples from a wide variety of online courses;
  • teachers’ reflections about their online practice;
  • a checklist of standards to help guide teaching decisions; and
  • an accompanying website ( with additional resources.


Essentials of Online Teaching addresses key instructional challenges in online teaching and presents the reader with practical solutions for each phase of a course—preparation, beginning, middle, and end. 


"With the exhilarating yet confusing rush of virtual learning possibilities, educators at all levels need a fresh understanding of the online environment to make strategic choices for their students. Any professional crafting an online learning experience will improve the quality of their teaching and ensure powerful results with their learners by reading this masterwork by McCabe and Gonzalez-Flores. They have laid out a practical menu of options for decision-making, addressing teaching standards, meaningful assessments, use of synchronous and asynchronous time, online interactions, and the monitoring of learner progress. This book will provide essential support for the contemporary educator."

--Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Ed.D., Author, President, Curriculum Designers, Inc.

"This book provides a clear and thorough guide to all aspects of online teaching, including course design, student engagement, support, collaboration, and assessment. Novice and expert alike will benefit from the synthesis of research knowledge and practical experience presented here. Meticulously researched with many practical examples from across a range of content areas and pedagogical approaches, Essentials of Online Teaching makes a compelling case that the principles of good teaching--suitably integrated into the online environment--can provide for powerful educational experiences. This guide shows you how."

--Robert V. Steiner, Ph.D., Director, Online Teacher Education Programs, American Museum of Natural History, USA.

Table of Contents




About the Authors

Introduction to this Guide

i.1 The Distinction Between Course Design and Teaching

i.2 A Unique Guide for Online Teaching

1.3 Who Will Benefit from this Guide?

i.4 A Standards-Based Approach

i.5 Organization of the Book

i.6 Chapter Features

i.7 Terminology

1. Orientation to Online Teaching

1.1 Evolution of Online Education

1.2 A Spectrum of Online Course Models

1.3 The Online Environment

1.4 Attributes of Online Teaching and Learning

1.5 Online Teaching Responsibilities

1.6 Example: Overview of a Week Online

1.7 Time Expectation for Teachers

1.8 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

2. Factors that Influence Online Teaching

2.1 Online Teaching

2.2 Online Learners

2.3 Course Content and Learning Objectives

2.4 The Online Environment and the Tools Used

2.5 The Mission and Priorities of the Host Institution

2.6 Influences in Action: Sample Course

2.7 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

3. Teaching with Digital Tools and Resources

3.1 Supporting Learning with Digital Resources and Tools

3.2 Communicating with Students

3.3 Sharing Resources with Students

3.4 Assessing and Grading Student Learning

3.5 Creating Collaborative Resources

3.6 Beyond the LMS

3.7 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

4. Preparing to Teach Online

4.1 Planning Your Teaching

4.2 Defining the Course’s Timeframe

4.3 Setting the Stage for Interaction

4.4 Preparing Course Materials

4.5 Establish Procedures for Technical failures

4.6 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

5. The Beginning Weeks: Launching an Online Course

5.1 Helping Students to Work in the Environment

5.2 Encouraging Communication

5.3 Building Self-Directed Learning Skills

5.4 Reflective Teaching: Learning as You Go

5.5 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

6. The Middle Weeks: Facilitating Online Learning

6.1 Guiding Students Through the Plan

6.2 Humanizing the Online Environment

6.3 Gathering Information About Your Students’ Progress

6.4 Improving Your Course

6.5 Example of the Course Improvement Strategy in Action

6.6 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

7. The Ending Weeks: Synthesizing and Extending Learning

7.1 Helping Students to Reach the Finish Line

7.2 Promoting Self-directed Learning

7.3 Reviewing and Synthesizing Learning

7.4 Concluding the Course

7.5 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

8. Online Collaboration

8.1 Weighing the Benefits and Drawback of Collaboration

8.2 What Makes a Good Collaborative Discussion?

8.3 What Makes Successful Group Work?

8.4 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

9. Online Assessment

9.1 Communicate a Clear Assessment Plan

9.2 Gather a Variety of Information about Students’ Learning

9.4 Provide Ongoing Feedback

9.5 Share Responsibility for Providing Feedback

9.6 Guard Against Cheating and Plagiarism

9.7 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

10. Pulling It All Together: An Online Teacher in Action

10.1 The Teacher and the Course

10.2 Factors that Influence Online Teaching

10.3 Digital Tools and Resources

10.4 Preparing to Teach Online

10.5 The Beginning Weeks

10.6 The Middle Weeks

10.7 The Final Weeks

10.8 The Essentials of Online Teaching

10.9 Summary and Standards

References and Further Reading

Appendix A: Using the Standards Checklist



About the Authors

Margaret Foley McCabe works with universities and other institutions to provide quality online programs through her consulting company, She launched her first online faculty development program for The New School in 1994.

Patricia González-Flores promotes teaching innovation at the Department of Educational Development and Curriculum Innovation of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. For more than 25 years, she has participated in distance education initiatives in both corporate and academic contexts.

About the Series

Essentials of Online Learning

Essentials of Online Learning series

This highly practical, easily-applied series of professional guides provides:

  • Standards: a clearly outlined set of standards are at the core of each individual book
  • Step-by-step learning: the development process progressively builds upon itself as you move through each book, making even complex concepts easy to understand regardless of your technological background or content-area expertise
  • Emphasis on design: the series emphasizes strong visual, pedagogical, and organizational design
  • Numerous examples: screenshots, video clips, and other "real-world" examples are utilized heavily throughout the books and companion websites
  • Voices of practitioners: the experiences of professionals working "in the field" are provided in their own words
  • Companion websites: each book in the series will have its own companion website which will link to the continuously updated series hub site

Online education still evokes a good deal of frustration, negativity, and wariness in teachers and learners.  However, the online learning experience can be at least as satisfying and engaging as the face-to-face learning experience if designed properly. Essentials of Online Learning provides readers with the knowledge and skills necessary to be a great online teacher.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Computers & Technology
EDUCATION / Distance Education & Learning