To mitigate the effects of transactional distance, it is incumbent upon online instructors to intentionally and thoughtfully incorporate and implement strategies that will create a successful learning environment, keep learners motivated, and provide a rewarding learning experience where learners feel supported, valued and connected. The authors, both of whom are long-standing faculty coaches and instructors at Northcentral University, have developed a tool that can be used to evaluate faculty engagement and can be applied both as an assessment tool and a tool for faculty self-reflection. This report begins by introducing the current landscape of online learning and the critical need for students to remain engaged. The discussion then moves to a theoretical framework for the paper and an overview of current theoretical best practices about distance pedagogy. The final section of the report constitutes a practical overview with a specific focus on a tool developed by the authors to evaluate instruction and engagement strategies in online graduate/higher education. This tool is designed for general applicability to other online contexts, serving as a discussion point around critical areas in the evaluation of online faculty engagement strategies.
Keywords: online learning, distance learning, higher education, graduate distance education, student learning, student engagement, faculty engagement strategies, multimodal engagement, teaching through engagement, evaluation of online teaching, evaluation of engagement strategies
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