Improve your online teaching game with these 5 books

Improve Your Online Teaching Game with These 5 Books

Where to even begin with the 2020 academic year? Maybe the obvious. A not so wild guess that it wasn’t easy for teachers (and students, and parents) to seamlessly switch between in-person and online learning – no thanks to a pandemic that demanded such an impromptu transition.

It was also dizzying. If we counted the number of times students and teachers have been thrown back and forth between physical classrooms and online zoom lectures during the fall semester alone, to say that this year was a challenge is likely a gross understatement. “Crisis Teaching” they called it…

Nevertheless, we’re getting better at it with every day that passes, and hopefully, we’re always looking for more ways to improve and navigate our new socially distanced environment. We know that nothing will ever replace one on one, traditional learning. And we’ve accepted that distanced online-learning is here to stay. But if you’re an educator, acknowledging this change doesn’t mean you won’t seek out new ways to best support your students virtually.

For those looking to up your online teaching game and help your students succeed in their virtual learning classes, we’ve curated a list of our five favorite online teaching books. These books provide tips that include encouraging participation, moving from lecture to online activities, course planning, advanced course design, discussion techniques, managing online interruptions, and so much more. See our list below.

Book cover for Balance with Blended Learning

Balance with Blended Learning by Catlin Tucker

Blended Learning in Action supports teachers, teacher leaders, and schools as they shift to a blended learning model. Blended learning has several advantages over traditional instruction if technology is used to effectively engage students in active learning both inside the classroom and online. Blended learning allows for more communication and collaboration both synchronously and asynchronously, creates more opportunities for students to drive their own learning, provides teachers with more time to work one-on-one or in small groups to differentiate and personalize learning while providing more timely feedback. This book includes research, examples, anecdotes, and resources gathered from the authors’ work as well as interviews with teachers and school leaders using different blended models. Source: Publisher

Book cover for Distance Learning Playbook

The Distance Learning Playbook, Grades K-12: Teaching for Engagement and Impact in Any Setting by Douglas FisherNancy FreyJohn Hattie

Effective teaching is effective teaching, no matter where it occurs. The pandemic teaching of mid-2020 was not really distance learning, but rather crisis teaching. But starting now, teachers have the opportunity to prepare for distance learning with purpose and intent—using what works best to accelerate students’ learning all the while maintaining an indelible focus on equity. Harnessing the insights and experience of renowned educators Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie, The Distance Learning Playbook applies the wisdom and evidence of VISIBLE LEARNING® research to understand what works best with distance learning. Spanning topics from teacher-student relationships, teacher credibility and clarity, instructional design, assessments, and grading, this comprehensive playbook details the research – and evidence-based strategies teachers can mobilize to deliver high- impact learning in an online, virtual, and distributed environment.

This powerful guide includes:

  • Learning Intentions and Success Criteria for each module to track your own learning and model evidence-based teacher practices for meaningful learning
  • A diversity of instructional approaches, including direct instruction, peer learning, and independent work that foster student self-regulation and move learning to deep and transfer levels
  • Discussion of equity challenges associated with distance learning, along with examples of how teachers can work to ensure that equity gains that have been realized are not lost.
  • Special guidance for teachers of young children who are learning from a distance
  • Videos of the authors and teachers discussing a wide variety of distance learning topics
  • Space to write and reflect on current practices and plan future instruction

The Distance Learning Playbook is the essential hands-on guide to preparing and delivering distance learning experiences that are truly effective and impactful.  Source: Publisher

Book cover for The Online Teaching Survival Guide

The Online Teaching Survival Guide by Judith V. Boettcher and Rita-Marie Conrad

Essential reading for online instructors, updated to cover new and emerging issues and technologies The Online Teaching Survival Guide provides a robust overview of theory-based techniques for teaching online or technology-enhanced courses. Covering all aspects of online teaching, this book reviews the latest research in cognitive processing and related learning outcomes while retaining a focus on the practical. A simple framework of instructional strategies mapped across a four-phase timeline provides a concrete starting point for both new online teachers and experienced teachers designing or revamping an online course. Essential technologies are explored in their basic and expanded forms, and traditional pedagogy serves as the foundation for tips and practices customized for online learning. The tips cover course management, social presence, community building, integration of new technologies, discussion and questioning techniques, assessment, and debriefing, along with new coverage of intensive or accelerated courses, customizing learning strategies, developing expertise, advanced course design, and assessment techniques exclusive to this new second edition. The theory and techniques of successful online teaching can be significantly different from those used face-to-face. With more and more classes being offered online, this book provides a valuable resource for taking your course to the next level. Source: Publisher

Book cover for Small Teaching Online

Small Teaching Online Applying Learning Science in Online Classes by Flower DarbyJames M. Lang

Find out how to apply learning science in online classes The concept of small teaching is simple: small and strategic changes have enormous power to improve student learning. Instructors face unique and specific challenges when teaching an online course. This book offers small teaching strategies that will positively impact the online classroom.  This book outlines practical and feasible applications of theoretical principles to help your online students learn. It includes current best practices around educational technologies, strategies to build community and collaboration, and minor changes you can make in your online teaching practice, small but impactful adjustments that result in significant learning gains. * Explains how you can support your online students * Helps your students find success in this non-traditional learning environment * Covers online and blended learning * Addresses specific challenges that online instructors face in higher education Small Teaching Online presents research-based teaching techniques from an online instructional design expert and the bestselling author of Small Teaching. Source: Publisher

Book cover for Excellent Online Teaching

Excellent Online Teaching Effective Strategies for a Successful Semester Online by Aaron Johnson

Drawing on nearly a decade of teaching online, and many years working as a technical adviser and faculty developer in higher education, author Aaron Johnson will walk you through sixteen distinct characteristics of excellent online teaching.

What you’ll learn:

  • Strategies for connecting with your students
  • Effective ways to save time in grading
  • Ways to give your students meaningful feedback
  • How to communicate effectively in the online environment
  • How to begin and end your course with excellence
  • How to effectively facilitate online discussion

Excellent Online Teaching also has a companion website with resources for each chapter. Because this is a rapidly changing field, this book focuses on enduring online teaching methods. The companion website contains updates, technical helps, and other resources. “My hope is that you’ll end the semester with a new level of confidence and with course evaluations that let you know that you are on the right track. More importantly, I hope that you and your students will be experiencing a vibrant learning relationship. If you have been teaching online for a while, I think you’ll find some ways to improve your game.” – Author, Aaron Johnson 

About the author

Phil Smyres
CEO and Founder of
I graduated from Ohio State University, and I’ve been in Columbus, OH ever since. In 1994, I started buying and selling books on campus with two brick and mortar stores. Those stores have since closed but has remained a premier online retailer for all your textbook needs. During this time, we’ve also added two additional online retailers, and

My interests include spending time with my family, traveling everywhere and watching Ohio State football.