You are here

Delays in shipping: Due to current delays in our warehouse shipping services, please expect longer than usual delivery times for any print book and journal orders. If you need access to content immediately, please consider ordering a digital product. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

If you need further assistance please visit our Contact us page for further information. 

The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction

The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction
Teaching for Engagement and Impact in Any Setting

Additional resources:

August 2020 | 200 pages | Corwin

First, let’s commend ourselves: how in the midst of a pandemic we faculty stepped up at record speed to teach in such a foreign learning environment. Try we did, adapt we did, and learn we did. But to be clear, and we already recognize this, this past spring was less about distance learning and more about crisis teaching.

This time around we have the opportunity to be much more purposeful and intentional, and that’s where The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction will prove absolutely indispensable.

Much more than a collection of cool tools and apps, The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction mobilizes decades of Visible Learning® research to reveal those evidence-based strategies that work best in an online environment. Supplemented by video footage and opportunities to self-assess and reflect, the book addresses every dynamic that must be in place for students to learn, even at a distance:

  • Faculty-student relationships from a distance
  •  Teacher credibility from a distance
  • Teacher clarity from a distance
  • Engaging tasks from a distance
  • Planning learning experiences from a distance
  • Feedback, assessment, and grading from a distance
  • Keeping the focus on learning, from a distance or otherwise

What does our post-COVID future hold? “We suspect,” Fisher, Frey, Almarode, and Hattie write, “it will include increased amounts of distance learning. In the meantime, let’s seize on what we have learned to improve post-secondary education in any format, whether face-to-face or from a distance.”

“We are all still active faculty members, committed to teaching, scholarship, and service. The unexpected transition to remote learning doesn’t mean we no longer know how to teach. We can still impact the lives of our students and know that we made a difference. The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction will show you how.”

~Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, John Almarode, and John Hattie

List of Videos
A Visible Learning® Primer

Visible Learning and Distance Learning

A Question of Equity

Module 1: Self-Care
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria


Module 2: The First Week of Classes
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Develop a Classroom Management Plan for Distance Learning

Establish Norms

Link Norms to Class Agreements

Identify Expectations for Synchronous Distance Learning

Develop and Teach Organizational and Procedural Routines

Design a Considerate Website

Your First Distance Classes

Learn Students’ Interests


Module 3: Faculty—Student Relationships From a Distance
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Characteristics of Faculty–Student Relationships

Judgment and Will, Not Just Knowledge and Ability

Peer-to-Peer Relationships Are Influenced, Too

A “Chilly” Classroom

Reaching the Hard to Teach

Increase Your Touchpoints With All Students


Module 4: Teacher Credibility at a Distance
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Teacher Credibility Defined


Module 5: Teacher Clarity at a Distance
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Start With the Standards and Competencies

Create a Flow of Learning: Planning for Class

Create Learning Intentions

Identify Success Criteria

Find the Relevance


Module 6: Engaging Tasks at a Distance
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Think Functions of Engagement, Not Just Tools

Set the Conditions for Engagement and Learning

Select the Tools That Meet These Functions and Conditions

Design Tasks With Engagement in Mind

Design a Considerate Schedule to Promote Engagement


Module 7: Planning Learning Experiences at a Distance
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria



Coaching and Facilitating



Module 8: Feedback, Assessment, and Grading
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Feedback to Students

The Socioemotional Links to Feedback

Feedback at a Distance

Formative Evaluation

Summative Evaluations

Competency-Based Grading


Module 9: Keeping the Focus on Learning, Distance or Otherwise
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Learning From Other Crises

Use Crisis Learning to Make Colleges and Universities Better

Make Learning Better for Students

Make Learning Better for Teachers


About the Authors


This is an amazing book. While it is designed to build everyone’s capacity to teach in distance learning environments, it is truly a primer on effective teaching in postsecondary education. Educators who utilize these clear and practical suggestions will see their students achieve stronger learning outcomes. The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction should be a cornerstone of faculty professional development efforts.

Joseph F. Johnson Jr., PhD
Executive Director for the National Center for Urban School Transformation and Emeritus Dean and Professor of San Diego State University

The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction is a very useful guide to helping educators make the transition from onsite to online teaching. The highly respected authors skillfully demonstrate how teachers can apply evidence-based practices from more traditional learning environments to a rapidly evolving world of online learning. The result is a wonderful self-guided tour of extraordinary opportunities to close the distance for learners.

David W. Andrews, PhD
President of National University

The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction offers an innovative learner-centered approach to student achievement where self-care, social emotional learning, instructional clarity, and responsive leadership strategies converge to support faculty in facilitating learner experiences that continue to transition students from ‘passenger to active driver’ in all learning environments, including distance education.

Robert N. Corley III, PhD
Associate Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs of Virginia State University and Project Director for the Wallace Foundation UPPI

The Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, John Almarode, and John Hattie is a timely and necessary addition to every faculty’s library. The authors’ considerate and experiential approach to distance learning provides a well-researched foundation, authentic vignettes of instructors’ experiences, easily accessible video and web links, and helpful techniques that can be used among most disciplines. Impressively, they envisage the distance learning environment beginning with the instructor and as an active, dynamic, and engaging space for learning and teaching.

Arlette Willis
Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

These authors once again exceed expectations with this thought-provoking and very practical guide to distance learning. The timing could not be better. Higher education faculty and administrators will find it extremely useful–including a much-needed chapter on self-care, a topic often overlooked in the literature. The pointers on engaging and assessing students are particularly helpful, and the learning intentions and success criteria make this an indispensable resource for new and veteran online instructors alike.

James P. Frazee, EdD
Chief Academic Technology Officer and Associate Vice President for Learning Technologies & Environments, San Diego State University

Sample Materials & Chapters

List of Videos


Select a Purchasing Option

Rent or Buy eBook
ISBN: 9781071838556

ISBN: 9781071838679

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.