Utah Tech University

Best Practices for Online Teaching

What Are Best Practices in Online Teaching?

If you go searching for “Best Practices” in the world of online teaching, you will find a plethora of information—how do you narrow it down? Fortunately, Utah Tech has made it easy by pulling together high-impact industry standards into a list of Online Teaching Best Practices—Policy 601b in the University Policy Library.

For your convenience, we’ve also pulled together some of the top Best Practices from Policy 601b and compiled them in an easy-to-use image. Take a look here, or download a pdf copy for convenient review at your own desk.

Best Practices for Teaching Trailblazers Online

Regular & Substantive Interaction (RSI)


One of the strongest predictors of online student performance and satisfaction is INTERACTION between instructor and learner (Baker, 2010; Ladyshewsky, 2013; Katsarou & Chatzipanagiotou, 2021; Kennette & Redd, 2015). “Regular and Substantive Interaction” is not only a Best Practice, but also a federal government requirement for any online course that students pay for via federal financial aid: “ensure…regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors…” (See Regular and Substantive Interaction: Background, Concerns, and Guiding Principles at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED593878.pdf).

RSI Training for new online instructors

Instructors who will be teaching online courses are required to complete the Orientation to Online Teaching course first (Section of University Policy 633). Included in this training is specific content regarding “Best Practices for Interaction and Feedback”, which highlights recommendations for regular and substantive interaction with students.

Ongoing training for faculty on RSI

The January 2022 faculty workshop “Best Practices for Online Teaching” focused on interaction with students. See slides at https://online.utahtech.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/120/2022/02/Workshop-on-Best-Practices-for-Online-Teaching-1-21-2022.pdf. Note Slide 8 re: RSI specifically.

Verifying Student Identity

In addition to outlining Best Practices for effective online teaching, Utah Tech University policy also provides procedures for verifying student identity—ensuring the student who is enrolled in an online course is the same student “whose achievements are evaluated and credentialed” (NWCCC Policies, Regulations and Finances).

In accordance with accreditation regulations, Utah Tech University policy requires all online instructors to verify the identity of students in online courses (Section 4.5.5 of University Policy 601). “Faculty members must verify that a student who registers for an online course is the same student who participates in and completes the course. Two or more student verification methods must be used…” (See University Policy Addendum 601C Online Student Verification, approved 29 April 2022).

Tools and technology to help with this requirement

Multi-Factor Authentication
Starting 1 February 2023, the University migrated from DUO Security to Microsoft Authenticator to more affordably and still securely require ALL employees and ALL students to login to University systems—including Canvas courses—using multi-factor authentication. For more information about the change in multi-factor authentication, see https://help.utahtech.edu/kb/article/151-mfa-change-faq/.

Proctorio Remote Proctoring
The University supports the use of Proctorio, a remote proctoring service to secure online exams. In 2020, Utah Tech joined the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) consortium software contract for Proctorio for University-wide implementation in Fall 2020. The Identity Verification in Proctorio facilitates verifying the identity of students at the beginning of online exams. The University Testing Center coordinates Proctorio use for online instructors and students. (See https://testing.utahtech.edu/proctorio-setup-within-canvas/.)

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)
Utah Tech University is an approved SARA Institution within the state of Utah, which is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement or NC-SARA (see https://academics.utahtech.edu/state-authorization/). SARA is a voluntary regional compact that helps ensure “more efficient, consistent, and effective regulation of distance education across state lines,” including guidelines for student identity verification (SARA Policy Manual 22.1).

Help to Implement Best Practices in Your Online Courses

For help with implementing any of the best practices in your online course, please contact your Utah Tech Online Learning Designer.