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EIU Faculty Development and Innovation Center

Best Practices for
Asynchronous Online Teaching

Most online courses are designed for asynchronous learning, where assignments and activities are not conducted in real time. Specific recommendations are discussed briefly below. For a fuller idea of how to design and implement your online course, consider registering for the Online Course Development Institute (OCDi) at EIU.

1. What do you need to start teaching for online asynchronously?

  • Required technologies:
    • Laptop or desktop computer
    • High-speed internet connection
    • Updated web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, etc.)
    • A course shell in D2L Brightspace
  •  Desirable technologies:
    • A webcam
    • A microphone
    • A video recording tool (Zoom, Kaltura Capture, Collaborate Ultra) for recording lectures

2. How could you make course announcements?

3. How could you post and organize course materials?

  • Use D2L for all your course materials. Post items such as the syllabus, handouts, readings, presentation slides, and assignments in the content area in your course in D2L. Consider what materials, assignments, and assessments are essential to successfully achieve the course learning outcomes. Being flexible with submission deadlines, within the parameters of the academic calendar, is the key in teaching for all modalities.

4. How could you deliver recorded lectures?

  • Break up your content into multiple topics. It is recommended to keep each of your lecture videos less than 10 minutes. Why have mini lectures?
    • Use multiple, shorter videos to cover the same material as one longer in-person lecture:
      • This allows for easier navigation of course material
      • This respects students unfamiliar with online learning and/or the rigors of online courses.
    • It is easier for you to amend your recording if there is anything that you want to edit or record again.
    • It takes less time to upload your videos if they are short and takes less time to close caption if needed.
  • Always give a purpose to students for watching lecture videos. For example, use guiding questions or embed quiz questions in your videos or create an online discussion topic about the lecture videos.
  • Use a more conversational tone in your videos to engage students. 
  • Consult Dr. Lu Ding’s Teaching Tips about Creating Engaging Lecture Videos
  • EIU-supported tools that can be used to record lecture videos:

5. How could you conduct class-wide discussions?

  • Provide specific discussion prompts that are more likely to incite discussions to guide student responses.
  • Share examples of strong student posts including both original post and replies. 
  • Give the students time (at least a few days) to post and reply to each discussion prompt, and announce clear deadlines.
  • Facilitate online discussions and provide summary feedback (e.g., common issues, ideas, misconceptions) by using News Widget in D2L.
  • Consult Dr. Lu Ding’s Teaching Tips about Effective Online Discussions
  • Tools for asynchronous online discussions:
    • Discussions in D2L (EIU-supported)
    • Flipgrid: A video asynchronous online discussion tool (not EIU-supported, but embeds in D2L)

6. How could you conduct group discussions?

  • It is recommended to have 3-7 students in a group for small group discussions.
  • Assign a reporter for each group to summarize the main ideas of group discussions and share them with the entire class.
  • Tools for asynchronous online discussions:

7. How could you conduct group projects?

  • It is recommended to have 3 OR 5 students (e.g., an odd number) in a group for group projects.
  • Assign a project manager for each group.
  • Encourage group members to have synchronous meetings by using web conferencing tools and/or create an asynchronous online discussion forum for each group.
  • Give participation points to encourage group discussions.
  • Use notetaking tools to record group projects/ideas.
  • Use peer evaluation.
  • Tools for group projects (EIU-supported):

8. How could students submit assignments?

  • Use D2L Brightspace for assignment submissions. Students can easily submit assigned material through D2L Brightspace. 
  • In addition, Turnitin embedded in D2L assignment dropboxes also helps you to prevent student plagiarism.
  • When creating assignments, be sure to:
    • Give a clear indication of the assignment and expectations for the students.
    • Communicate due dates of assignments.

9. How could you assess students?

10. How could you hold online office hours?

  • Schedule consistent office hours every week. During the scheduled office hours, keep web conferencing tools open but mute your webcam and microphone until someone joins the meeting.
  • Allow students to schedule appointments with you by email.
  • Allow students who do not have a stable internet connection to call you on the phone for their appointments.

How can students become more familiar with D2L at EIU?

  • D2L Student Orientation Course:  Consider requiring students to complete EIU's D2L Student Orientation (or provide extra credit for students who complete it).  Students can earn the Rookie badge after completing a series of short videos which total just over 30 minutes.  The self-directed Rookie course includes basic navigation in D2L, Content, Notifications, Email, Dropbox Submissions, Discussions, Quizzes, Grades, and Feedback.  A few simple quiz questions are embedded at the end of each video to insure completion. After successful completion of all video quizzes, a certificate is awarded. The student can submit the certificate to the instructor.  The orientation only needs to be completed one time and can be reported to multiple classes. Every student is automatically enrolled in the D2L Student Orientation course.  If a student is unable to access the orientation course, the student should contact  The orientation course is linked in the Technical Support widget on the My Home page in D2L or you can provide the link within your course.  The direct link to the D2L Student Orientation course is  Instructors can be enrolled in the orientation course as a student to view the content by sending a request to

Page updated: August 10, 2021

Related Pages

Contact Information

Dr. Michael Gillespie, Director, FDIC


Kim Ervin
Instructional Designer


Faculty Development and Innovation Center

1105 Booth

David Smith
Instructional Support and Training Specialist


Keerthana Saraswathula
Instructional Support and Training Specialist


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