computer screen

Creating an Online Classroom

Stanford Online High School has been the leader in online education for grades 7–12 since 2006. For schools needing to transition online, this webpage offers free resources and considerations for effective remote teaching and learning.

Educator Resources

In March 2020, Stanford Online High School released a series of free webinars and resources to help schools transition to online learning successfully in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. These pages contain the resources created for educators at that time.

Webinar Series for Educators

Since March 2020, Stanford Online High School administration have hosted a series of instructional webinars for educators worldwide on how to teach effective classes online. Click the links to view recordings.

Essentials for Teaching Your Class Online

Available for instructors worldwide, this free course covered the essentials of online teaching including general guidelines for adapting your course to an online format, best practices for varied situations, common pitfalls in online course design, and how to troubleshoot student issues online.

Teach Your Class Online: Part 1

Offered through Stanford Continuing Studies, and designed and taught by Stanford Online High School instructors, this online course covers best practices for online teaching.

Teach Your Class Online: Part 2

  • Getting Specific: Situations and Tools
  • Science: Labs in Online Pedagogy

Teach Your Class Online: Part 3

  • Online Classroom Example Clips
  • Building and Maintaining a Classroom Community

Teach Your Class Online: Part 4

  • Review of Submitted Sample Lesson Drafts
  • Troubleshooting Obstacles to Success in the Online Environment

Teach Your Class Online: Part 5

  • Math: Using Writing Tablets and Whiteboards
  • Modern Languages: Tips for Highly Interactive Class During Which Students Actively Speak and Write in the Target Language
  • Humanities: Productive Classroom Conversations About Challenging Subjects

Online Learning Environment

The optimal synchronous online learning environment fosters interaction among teachers and students and deep engagement with course material. Here are several key elements to consider:
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.

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).

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

With our 17+ 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.

Tomohiro Hoshi, Ph.D.

Head of School, Stanford Online High School

Online Experience Student Videos

Stanford Online High School students and alums share their thoughts on what it is like to be an online student, how to connect with instructors and friends outside of class, how to structure their day, and more.

Video Tutorials: The Essentials

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



Please note: Stanford Online High School does not permit new students to join the school after the academic year has begun. Learn more about our Admissions process and join our interest list here.