Online Courses do not have to be the electronic adoption of the traditional correspondence course in which participant activity and engagement have often been nominal. When online courses are active, e-learners create valuable learning communities, build friendships, and share in online experiences that have similar characteristics and results as those of the conventional classroom. The following ten tips will help bring active learning to your online courses.

1. Establish clear expectations for participation. The expectations for participation in a classroom course are typically recognizable through the course agenda, syllabus, or time line. For online courses, however, these norms for participation are less frequently established or recognized by participants and should therefore be clarified by the instructor.

2. Provide etiquette guidelines for online communications. Rules, policies, and recommendations for how participants should interact during an active online course are best communicated at teh beginning of the course. For example, avoid sarcasm, idioms, jargon, and slang.

3. Test-drive any and all technology. Prior to assigning activities that use online technology, the associated tools should be tested by both you and the course participants, Identifying technical problems before course activities begin can save you time as well as a variety of hassles.

4. Create an effective teaching environment. Just as a loud radio or television would divert your attention while facilitating a classroom activity, online technologies can distract you from online engagement just as easily. As a result, it is best to avoid multitasking while teaching online.

5. Don’t try to do it all the first time. Activities and games for creating engaging online courses are as numerous as your imagination, although too much of a good thing can often lead to problems for participants.

6. Write comments and questions in advance. When teaching an online course, you should prepare for discussions, especially “live” chat room discussion, ahead of time using your word processing program. By typing questions or comments beforehand, you can simply cut and paste them into the chat room discussion at the appropriate time without having to delay the conversation.

7. Require informative subject lines. Given the volume of online communications in most any e-learning course, using and requiring detailed subject lines is essential to course organization and management.

8. Get participants involved. The most frequent complaint of online learners is a feeling of isolation from hte learning community. Using online groups, engaging activities, frequent discussion topics, and other active learning strategies can reduce teh anxiety of participants by helping them establish online relationships with their peers.

9. Review and reflect. Online courses provide you and the participants with unprecedented documentation of what was taught, referenced, discussed, and decided in an online course, all of which can be used effectively to review and reflect on the course experiences.

10. Expect the unexpected. Any course that relies on technology will experience a variety of technical “melt downs” from time to time. Although technology contingency plans are vital, an online instructor must remain flexible and patient.