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Driving Engagement in Virtual Courses

Esme Learning Solutions

About this Course

Driving Engagement in Virtual Courses provides the practical guidance for successfully teaching university courses in a live, virtual environment. This course outlines the benefits of virtual learning, helps you evaluate your readiness for teaching online, describes successful remote learning models and tools, prepares you to teach virtually, and provides you with a class toolkit. Note that by design this course does not cover asynchronous, online activities, as it is focused on how to engage learners during a live class session.

This course provides lesson-planning templates that you can use in your virtual classroom. You can choose to work on a new lesson plan as you progress through the course, or you can wait until the end. 

This course does not require participants to have access to a Learning Management System (LMS) to teach virtually, as the content is applicable to a broad range of technologies. The course is self-paced, meaning you can take it any time, any place. The expected time commitment is 2 hours.


This course is for anyone who is tasked with teaching their courses in a virtual environment: college professors, corporate trainers, or K-12 teachers. Although the course is designed for new practitioners in virtual teaching, experienced instructors may take away new ideas and approaches to apply to their virtual classroom. 

Learning Objectives

This course is organized in the following five sections and learning objectives:

Module 1: Why Virtual Learning?


  • Describe why we’re offering this course and how it will help you.

Mindset Shift and the Benefits of Teaching Virtually

  • Describe the rationale for setting up a virtual class.
  • Explain what you can do online to enhance the learning experience beyond what you can do in a face-to-face classroom.

Building Engaging Virtual Courses

  • Express how to achieve better results through proven techniques, including group work.

Module 2: Virtual Learning Health Check

Evaluate Your Experience

  • Recognize your comfort level with transitioning to virtual learning.

What Learners Need to Succeed

  • Explain the challenges and benefits for students of learning virtually.

Goals for your Virtual Course

  • Define practical, achievable goals for delivering your course virtually.

Module 3: Learning Models and Tools

Essential Virtual Teaching Techniques

  • Define the basic models for teaching virtually.

Applying Bloom's Taxonomy to Virtual Lessons

  • Evaluate which lesson-building strategies will work best for your situation.

Technical Tools and Best Practices

  • Express which readily available tools are most effective for delivery and how to use them to maximum effect.

Creating a Story Map

  • Create a story map or timeline for breaking up your class.

Communication Strategies and Building a Virtual Rapport with Students

  • Evaluate which virtual communication strategies will engage your students the most.
  • Describe how to create a virtual "presence" for yourself with your students.

Module 4: Setting Yourself Up to Teach Online

Transforming Your Space for Video and Audio Lectures

  • Explain how to set up your home office for optimal audio & video quality when delivering online lectures.
  • Ensure you have the right equipment to film yourself effectively and get tips on how to look great on camera.

Creating a Rapport with Students in Pre-Recorded Lectures

  • Describe how to create pre-recorded video lectures in a way that builds your persona and rapport with your learners.
  • Provide learners with tips on how to present themselves on video.

Module 5: Your Virtual Class Playbook

Developing Lessons and Course Organization

Incorporating Interactivity and Group Work

  • Review practical strategies for incorporating interactivity and group work into your virtual class sessions.

Assessment Strategies

  • Review practical strategies for incorporating formative and summative assessment into your virtual class sessions.

Download Playbook



This course includes links to articles on external websites, as optional readings. Although all the articles are currently free to read, we cannot guarantee that will always be the case.


Photo of Beth PorterBeth Porter, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Esme Learning Solutions and Founder & CEO of Riff Analytics. A former VP at Pearson Education and edX, Beth’s highly sought-after expertise stems from a deep passion for education and desire to provide the highest quality tech-enabled learning experiences. Beth has led pioneering research and developed products that transform online teaching and learning, including driving the Open edX initiative at edX and architecting the original Texas OnCourse program. Her engagements in higher education include researcher and lecturer at the MIT Media Lab and Boston University Questrom School of Business.

Photo of David SchrierDavid Shrier, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Esme Learning Solutions. David is a globally recognized thought leader in technology and educational innovation. The portfolio of digital classes he created for MIT and University of Oxford have engaged more than 15,000 innovators in over 140 countries, and revolutionized the model for university short-course offerings. He is an Associate Fellow with Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and a Lecturer with the MIT Media Lab. David has published five books in the past five years focused on technology disruption, the three most recent of which with MIT Press or Little Brown.

Creative Commons Copyright

This course is written and distributed under the Creative Commons, which means that you can liberally reuse this content for your own course material.

Getting Help

If you have questions about this course, please contact