Effective Practices

Faculty and instructional technology professionals who are interested in seeking “what works” in higher education are often involved in researching and developing “effective practices” (used here over the more subjective term that is sometimes referred to as “best” practices). Effective practices are programs or strategies that have shown evidence of having had a positive impact on their student population. We include selected courses, resources, checklists and guidelines to help faculty members and instructional designers in the creation of hybrid and online courses and welcome your input to identify strategies that have worked in your classrooms. To design effective online teaching practices, a review of literature suggests that the following principles be considered:

Rethinking Expectations About Assignments
When developing hybrid classes it’s important to pay close attention to the ways in which online work connects with and supports the face-to-face interactions and vice-versa. Those who take part in ‘flipping‘ their class by recording mini lectures and placing them alongside activities that can be completed online and brought back to the classroom see the technique as a way to promote active classrooms through active study practices. Ramsden (1988) notes that “learning should be seen as a qualitative change in a person’s way of seeing, experiencing, understanding, conceptualizing something in the real world— rather than as a quantitative change in the amount of knowledge someone possesses” (p. 271).

Web 2.0: Aligning Learning outcomes With Online Learning and Assessment Strategies
Learners have the best opportunity to achieve the goals of a course when educational activities and resources relate closely to the intended learning outcomes contained within a learning module or course. In this section you will find resources for effective practices using Web 2.0 tools.

Teaching Rigorous and Reflective Thinking
Reflective thinking is the basis for student and faculty learning. What effective practices can be used in a hybrid setting to demonstrate reflective thought and action?

Building Online Learning Communities
A supportive learning environment lays the groundwork for fostering community online. Hybrid classes are often seen as a compromise between the conventional face to face classroom and online learning. What are some of the ways to design hybrid courses to maximize face-to-face time to promote the development of learning communities? The resources in this section will provide suggestions for encouraging students to interact with one another in both settings to set the tone for active learning.

Teaching Context–A Map for Course Design

  • Good course design is an essential part of an effective practice because it prioritizes student learning and makes good use of the online environment.  In a well-designed course, students can easily find assignments and due dates, understand long-term course expectations, determine how well they are doing in the course, and find help when they are having trouble with the coursework or the technology.

Putting An Emphasis on Student-Centered Teaching
This approach to curriculum design focuses on the needs of the students, with the aim of enabling students to take responsibility for their own learning through active goal setting and determining the resources with which they can guide their own learning process. This process naturally takes the focus off the instructor as the deliverer of knowledge and allows for the teacher to take on the role of facilitator for the learning.

Students Learning with Technology (constructing knowledge), Rather Than Learning From Technology (using knowledge)
The US Department of Education relates that the challenge for our education system is to leverage technology to create relevant learning experiences that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures.
Learning with Technology: Using computers as technology tools Jonassen, Reeves

Mobile Learning

  • Have you noticed that cell phones have not been much about phone calls lately?  This section will help you investigate the ways in which CUNY Colleges are exploring the use of mobile devices in education. So-called ‘smart’ phones are a ubiquitous way to access information from anywhere and they enable our College community to participate in activities on the go and to communicate with classmates via text, chat or Skype from remote locations.
Clickers and Classroom Dynamics

  • Student response systems, or “clickers” are wireless systems that can be used to collect responses from a group of people in real time.   When a question is posed, each individual with a clicker enters a response.  The results are instantly aggregated and displayed in a graph that can be projected to the front of the room. Clickers can be excellent tools for engaging students and generating class discussion and can be useful to hybrid courses where the face-to-face on-site component becomes the support to gauging how students are responding to material covered online.


The National Education Association lists a series of effective (best) practices, many of which are mentioned and further elaborated upon here.

  • Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

    November 17, 2012Maria Pagano
    Since 1987, these principles have often been cited as useful strategies for anyone who teaches undergraduates. The conclusions derived by Chickering and Gamson were supported by an analysis of over 50 years of research findings in the area
  • Bridge the Gap – Educating Instructors in Course Design

    December 11, 2012Alyson Vogel
    Replicating the interactivity of the physical classroom is an essential component to the success of an online environment since it can bridge the gap between the isolation of distance learning and the fluidity of the discourse as it might occur in traditional classrooms.  Learn how learning management systems support increased “human presence” through multimedia platforms. Extensive training in instructional design and collaboration between IT staff, administrators and instructors is key to implementing outstanding online programs. Bridge the Gap – Educating Instructors in Course Design The resources in this document can all be found attached to this post: Online and Hybrid Course Development1-1 Lehman Syllabus example Starting from scratch- syllabus and performance_objectives in the hybrid classroom  
  • Effective Practices: Using Popular Media for Active Learning: Engaging Students Outside of the Classroom

    December 17, 2012Alyson Vogel
    Teaching first year English composition, a compulsory subject at Queensborough Community College (QCC), can be challenging, especially when trying to engage a diverse student population with a wide range of prior educational backgrounds. Adding a technology component to a course such as EN101 not only enriches student experience but also embraces QCC’s general education learning objectives, and, in particular, the objective to “use information management and technology skills effectively for academic research and lifelong learning,” as stated in its Assessment Handbook.
  • Suggested Effective Practices from Across CUNY Campuses

    November 17, 2012Maria Pagano
    CUNY School of Professional Studies A Comprehensive List of Standards, Best Practices and Criteria Lehman College Suggestions for Managing Online and Hybrid Classrooms Borough of Manhattan Community College Online Teaching Tips from BMCC Faculty New York City College of Technology Using Technology to Enhance the Learning Process York College  

    July 11, 2012Karen Lundstrem
    The SLOAN-C EFFECTIVE PRACTICES site covers everything from assessment to online course design.  This peer reviewed site provides some of the best practices that have evolved from the work of SLOAN-C members. CUNY is an active member of the Sloan Consortium.  
  • BCC Learning Unit Planning Guide

    September 10, 2012Laura C Broughton
    Bronx Community College has an intensive 6-month online course development program using Blackboard as the learning management system.  Materials provided to the faculty participants have been developed collaboratively by Dr. Howard Wach, Dr. Charles Alston, and Dr. Laura Broughton, with feedback from Dr. Giulia Guarnieri, Prof. Moronke Oshin-Martin, and Mr. Albert Robinson. The BCC Learning Unit Planning Guide is provides steps to follow when creating learning units for an online course.
Skip to toolbar