|Original Publication Date:
|15 July 2018
This review was originally published in Research in Online Literacy, vol. 1, no. 2 (2018).
Essentials of Online Teaching: A Standards-Based Guide offers a clean, organized approach to pedagogy in an increasingly online world. The authors provide a comprehensive strategy for anyone involved in a distance-learning process by integrating their own personal experiences, the perspectives of 15 online educators across three countries, and information from dozens of academic books, articles, and websites cited at the end of each chapter.
Early chapters provide context and background, with overviews of the history of online education, the different types of courses that are typically offered in an online setting, and the unique tools commonly available for online educators building and conducting classes. Middle chapters serve as a walkthrough for course preparation and the experience of actually teaching an online course, divided into major phases. Later chapters focus on key skills for collaboration and assessment in an online environment, and a bring-it-all-together case study to demonstrate the titular standards in practice. Each chapter features a straightforward checklist to ensure the standards are being met, with a master checklist in a quick-reference appendix covering the entire guide. Best of all, the discussion is not dependent on specific software, frameworks, or websites, so the book avoids becoming instantly dated as the relevant technology evolves.
McCabe and Gonzáles-Flores are clearly no strangers to the world of online education and treat the subject matter with deft confidence. Both have spent decades using technology to improve learning in both the public and private sectors. Of particular note, the book itself is a testament to their firm belief in the strength and effectiveness of online resources and tools: in the chapter on collaboration, they reveal they planned and wrote Essentials of Online Teaching completely online via video conferencing and Google Docs, without ever meeting face-to-face. Apart from offering up their own experience, the authors include sidebars from professors based in America, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, each teaching different subjects with different delivery modes and instructional models, to provide a broad range of viewpoints and mindsets illustrating the varied possibilities in the world of distance learning. This inclusion of real-life perspectives culminates in the final chapter, a detailed case study following one professor’s application of the standards outlined in the text to create and run an online English course catering to students around the world.
Essentials of Online Teaching is highly recommended for anyone involved in online education: professors responsible for conducting the courses, administrators and support staff who manage programs involving online education, and even corporate trainers and other distance educators outside the academic sphere. Additionally, many of the standards offered are applicable across a wide range of educational contexts, not just Internet-based learning environments, so educators not directly involved in online learning may benefit as well. It’s also worth mentioning this is the third book in an ongoing series, Essentials of Online Learning, and its predecessors, Essentials of Online Course Design by Marjorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski and Essentials for Blended Learning by Jared Stein and Charles Graham, may also be useful to online educators.
Remington Jones is a software developer, professional writer, and avid reader who has over 10 years of experience working in technology-related fields. He graduated from Western Carolina University in May 2018, with a major in Professional Writing and double-minor in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems.