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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Global Best Practices for Successful Online Learning

Dr Les Pang.

Different from the traditional classroom environment, online learning offers many unique challenges for the educator. There are obstacles dealing with the technology; key decisions to be made on the course delivery approach in this new environment; and difficult issues in managing a class of geographically dispersed students in an asynchronous mode. For many it is uncharted territory that can be conquered by only those who have the knowledge, skills and veracity. This knowledge can be gained by the sharing of ideas provided by experienced online educators from throughout the world.

The following is a sample of best practices identified through the author’s personal experience and those of his immediate colleagues as well as through intense research of global resources.

Preliminary Preparation

• Establish a strong and cohesive implementation team
• Provide incentives for educators to teach online
• Provide a technology infrastructure which is reliable and readily accessible
• Establish strong help desk support having an online focus
• Assess training needs and plan then prepare a strong professional development program for educators
• Create an interactive community of educators
• Establish a style guide to ensure interface and format consistency
• Ensure that there is a manageable number of students in each class
• Provide the necessary library resources
• Properly market the online presence

Course Development

• Hold face-to-face kickoff meetings among the educators and key stakeholders
• Avoid blind conversion of traditional content to the online environment
• Include multimedia in the course content but be cognizant of bandwidth issues
• Try innovative learning techniques – pseudo debates, role playing, games, etc.
• Update your existing content

Online Facilitation

• Involve students in high-level discussions (avoid “cut-and-paste” responses)
• Avoid if not minimize team activities
• Have lessons start on Monday mornings and assignments due on Sunday nights
• Respond to student questions in a timely manner but avoid e-mail replies
• Have students answer other student questions
• Make the student constantly aware of your online presence
• Be cognizant of time zone differences (e.g., assignment due dates and time)

Special Features to Look for in an Online Software Package

• Provides instant messaging capability
• Able to identify “read” messages
• Utilizes an effective grade book capability
• Allows for semester-to-semester content carryover
• Integrates with back-end databases
• Provides chat room capabilities

These best practices may or may not fit in all educational environments due to cultural, social and financial factors. However, the careful review and selection of relevant practices will result in achieving the required learning goals of the student.


Dr Les Pang  (United States)
Professor of Systems Management
Information Resources Management College, Information Operations and Technology
National Defense University

Dr. Les Pang, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, is a Professor of Systems Management at the National Defense University, Information Resources Management College, where he currently teaches courses to military and civilian leaders on E-government, enterprise applications, data management technologies, modeling and simulation, Internet, software technologies, and multimedia technologies. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the area of computer systems management at the University of Maryland at the graduate and undergraduate level. He serves as the editor-in-chief of a technology newsletter called “Info Tech Talk.” He has been in the education field since 1989.

He has significant experience teaching online and web-enhanced courses using numerous online delivery packages including Blackboard, Learning Space, and WebTycho. Dr. Pang has received numerous performance awards throughout his career including several nominations for Teaching Excellence award at the University of Maryland for his online courses.

He has significant speaking experience as described below:

“Managing and Controlling the Virtual Organization,” ISACA 2001 International Conference, Paris, France, June 2001

“CRM Concepts, Technologies and Best Practices,” 2002 Asia-CACS Conference, Seoul, Korea, September 2002

“Customer Relationship Management,” ISACA 2002 International Conference, New York, July 2002

“Best Practices in Continuous Data Synthesis,” Federal Computer Week’s CIO Summit Conference, Savannah, May 2000

“Data Warehousing: An Approach for Improving Decisionmaking Processes for Global Defense Operations,” Defense Analysis Seminar X, Seoul, Korea, October 1999.

“Application of Collaborative Simulation in Component-Based Technology Education,” 5th Conference of Information Systems Analysis and Synthesis and the 3rd Conference of Systematics, Cybernetics and Informatics, Orlando, May 1999.

  • Online learning
  • Online course delivery
  • Online software
  • Software
  • Global
  • Best practices
  • lessons learned
  • course development
  • online facilitation

(30 min Conference Paper, English)