Best Online Instructional Practices: Report of Phase I of An Ongoing Study

Keeton, Morris T. “Best Online Instructional Practices: Report of Phase I of An Ongoing Study.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, volume 8, number 2 (April 2004): 75-100.


This study examines how best practices in online instruction are the same as, or different from, best practices in face-to-face (F2F) instruction. The book Effectiveness and Efficiency in Higher Education for Adults [1] summarizes some 20 years of research on best practices in F2F instruction. The bases of comparison are principles from the KS&G material and from Chickering and Gamson’s “seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education” [2]. A reason for making these comparisons is that the rapid growth of online instruction promises that online instruction may become the largest source of ongoing higher education. Not surprisingly, interest in assessing the quality of online offerings has also grown [3, 4, 5, 6]. The question is increasingly raised: Are postsecondary institutions effectively “doing their old job in a new way?” [7]. One way to answer that question is to analyze the online instructional practices of faculty with the aid of research on patterns of instruction, face-to-face and online. This paper is abbreviated from a February 14, 2002 report by Marisa Collett, Morris Keeton and Vivian Shayne of the Institute for Research and Assessment in Higher Education for the Office of Distance Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of Maryland University College.


  1. Keeton, M. Sheckley, B. & Krejci-Griggs, J. Effectiveness and Efficiency in Higher Education for Adults. Council on Adult and Experiential Learning. Chicago: Kendall-Hunt, 2002.
  2. Chickering, A. W. & Gamson, Z. Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. Racine, WI: The Johnson Foundation, 1987.
  3. Bonk, C. J. Online Teaching in an Online World. 2001.
  4. Bonk, C. J. & Wisher, R. A. Applying Collaborative and E-learning Tools to Military Distance Learning: A Research Framework. (Technical Report #1107). Alexandria, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, 2000.
  5. Phipps, R. & Merisotis, J. What’s the Difference? A Review of Contemporary Research on the Effectiveness of Distance Learning in Higher Education. Washington, D.C.: The Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1999.
  6. Russell, T. L. The “No Significant Difference Phenomenon.” Chapel Hill, NC: Office of Instructional Telecommunications, North Carolina University, 1999.
  7. Shea, C. Taking Classes to the Masses. The Washington Post Magazine, 24–25, 28–33. September 16, 2001.

The article is available here.

Or, here: v8n2_keeton_1

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.

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