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Creating an Online Classroom

Stanford Online High School has been successfully educating students online through an innovative virtual classroom model since 2006. For schools exploring online learning in case of temporary closures, this webpage provides free resources and considerations for effective remote teaching and learning.

With our 14 years of experience running seminar-style online classrooms, we want to emphasize that you don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” for online teaching. Focus on how to use technology to fit your pedagogy, rather than how to change your pedagogy to fit the technology. For that to happen, you need to have a well-developed remote learning plan in place first. We hope you find our material here useful for that purpose.

Tomohiro Hoshi, Ph.D.

Head of School, Stanford Online High School

Webinar Series: Effective Online Classrooms

Stanford Online High School administration are hosting a series of educational webinars on how to teach effective classes online. Click the links to register, or to view recordings of past webinars.

Upcoming Webinars:

In the following webinar, you will be able to learn from experienced staff from College Counseling and Academic Advising

Thursday, April 9, 2020, 2:00 pm Pacific Time: College Counseling and Academic Advising (Register)

Past Webinars:

March 12, 2020, 2:00 pm: Online Teaching  (Recording)

March 18, 2020, 12:00 noon: Online Teaching for specific disciplines I (Foreign Languages, Math, English, Science, Math, and History)

March 19, 2020, 2:00 pm: Online Teaching for specific disciplines II (Foreign Languages, Math, English, Humanities, and Online Tutoring)

March 26, 2020, 2:00 pm: Online Teaching for specific disciplines III (Counseling and Student Support, Student Life and the Writing and Tutoring Center) 

April 1, 2020, 12:00pm: Online Teaching for specific disciplines IV (Foreign Languages, Math, English, Science, and History)

April 9, 2020, 2:00pm: Online Teaching for specific disciplines IV (Math, Science, English, Humanities, and Middle School)

Getting Started

As you explore, assess, and improve your online learning plans, please review these videos for essential online classroom tools and effective practices:

Resources for Online Classrooms

Checklist for Considering a Remote Learning Plan
Best Practices for an Online Classroom
Common Tech Troubles and Tips
Case Study: Virtual Classrooms
Student Support Services

Key Ingredients of an Online Classroom

The optimal synchronous online learning environment fosters interaction among teachers and students and deep engagement with course material. For this reason, an effective online classroom has several key characteristics:
Staff teaching a Stanford OHS Class

Conference Software with Video and Audio

In order for learning to happen synchronously, teachers and students must be able to interact in real time. Using video-conferencing software such as Adobe Connect, Zoom, or GoToMeeting allows participants in the class to see and hear one another, thus fostering community and genuine back-and-forth discussion.
Sample Class

Annotation by Teachers and Students

In addition to video, audio, and text chat, an ideal setup includes a space for document sharing or a virtual whiteboard. This space can be used for freehand drawing, live note-taking, sharing of PDF files, a slideshow, or other forms of multimedia.
Student at computer

Uses Meeting Time Effectively

Research has shown that students learn better in an active and engaged classroom, and this holds true online as well. In order to make full use of the time together, it is beneficial to follow a flipped classroom model in which students prepare for class by reading a text or watching lectures that will serve as the basis for discussion.
Virtual Classroom 15 students on camera

Smaller Class Size

Synchronous online learning works best when it is discussion-based; it also works best when the number of students meeting at any one time is kept small. This allows all students to be engaged in class rather than hiding in anonymity. A class community and culture forms through multiple meetings, and works best with fewer than 20 participants (depending on the conferencing tool).
OHS Stickers



Please note: Stanford Online High School does not permit new students to join the school after the academic year has begun. The final application deadline for the 2020-21 academic year has been extended to March 29, 2020.