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Notes on Teaching and Learning

Review: Small Teaching Online by Flower Darby with James M. Lang

January 7, 2022
ND Learning

Why we Recommend this Book: Grounded in the scholarship of teaching and learning, Small Teaching Online provides accessible and practical strategies that can be easily implemented in online, hybrid, or face to face courses. 

In Small Teaching Online Flower Darby adapts James Lang’s “small teaching” approach and tailors it for instructors teaching online. In Darby’s words, “[t]he small teaching approach seeks to effect change by giving faculty small, actionable modifications that they can make without having to overhaul their teaching from the ground up” (xxii).

This short and highly readable book is divided into three sections: Designing for Learning, Teaching Humans, and Motivating Online Students (and Instructors). It can be read from cover to cover but also consulted as needed: each chapter provides a succinct overview of a specific topic with useful “Quick Tips” on how to put its teaching principles into practice. These tips can be small modifications to existing courses and are easy to adapt across different disciplines. Especially useful is the fact that the small and actionable changes Darby proposes can be implemented by anyone, regardless of familiarity with digital tools or experience in course design.

While the majority of Darby’s examples are drawn from fully asynchronous courses, this book has something to offer instructors teaching in hybrid modalities, or even face to face. The chapters on “Surfacing Backward Design” and “Using Media and Technology Tools” provide practical guides for anyone setting up a course site in a Learning Management System (LMS). Equally useful is the chapter on “Building Community,” which presents practical, evidence-based strategies for community-building that are applicable to almost any kind of course. 

Digital and print copies of Small Teaching Online are available through the Hesburgh Library

To learn more about designing and teaching effective online courses, schedule a consultation with the ND Learning team.