High-Enrollment Classes

High-enrollment online courses come with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. We’ve compiled resources, ideas and literature that can help you and your students get the most out of a high-enrollment online course.




? Tips for Designing and Moderating Large-Enrollment Online Courses

? Time-Saving Tips for Large Online Classes 

? How to Be a Better Online Teacher (Not large class specific but valuable guidance) 

? Activities for Large Classes

? Faculty Focus: Tips for Teaching Large Classes Online   

? Teaching Large Classes Remotely 

? Using Online Environments for Teaching Large Classes   

?The Human Element in Online Learning   


? Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors 4th Edition 

? Not My Desk! The Academics’ Emergency Guide to Working from Home and Teaching Online 

? High-Impact Practices in Online Education: Research and Best Practices 

? The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips 

? Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes 

? Excellent Online Teaching: Effective Strategies For A Successful Semester Online 

? Course Design Formula: How to Teach Anything to Anyone Online 



? 10 Online Teaching Tips beyond Zoom: Teaching Without Walls 

? Discussion Boards and Large Classes 

? Distance Learning: Remote Teaching Strategies 


Faculty-to-Faculty Ideas

Idea TitleSummary
Let Students Form GroupsIf you’re using groups, let students take a shot at forming their own groups. Then you can step in and assign remaining students to a group as needed. This students a feeling of autonomy in the process.
How Grad Assistants Can HelpMake sure your GA has a copy of the textbook and any other materials s/he will need to help you manage the class. 

Use your GA to review assignments, quizzes, and exams for clarity, errors, and omissions before the students have access. This will avoid 100+ emails from students about a mistake or asking for clarity.
Utilize Actual Student ExamplesUse actual student work, with permission of course, to illustrate answers to problems or to show good writing examples. It helps students to see what kind of work their peers are doing.
Make Online Content Available for Face-to-Face StudentsIf possible, make your online course content, like lecture videos, available to face-to-face students and ask for feedback.
Go Beyond PowerPointWhen making video lectures, be sure to go beyond the PowerPoint concepts by providing real world examples based on your experience or share the experience of others you have heard or read about. Vivid examples illustrate concepts and bring your lectures to life for students. 
Student Support GroupsForm a small support group of other large class instructors so you can get help with any challenges along the way.
Weekly IcebreakersUse weekly icebreakers (like a weekly kickoff email or video) and consider posting a weekly Q&A video (even if students do not submit questions). This is a great way to embed concepts and deliver additional content.
Get Student Feedback  Use surveys periodically to find out what’s working for students and what else they would like to have to facilitate learning.
Over Communicate Instructions  When it comes to assignments in large online classes, it’s a good idea to over communicate instructions. Some students need to hear it multiple times to get it.

Related Literature


  • Special Issue: Large Class Pedagogy: Opportunities and Challenges of Massification – Higher Education (June 2014) 
  • https://www.jstor.org/stable/i40146102?refreqid=excelsior%3A717753de3166fa4236cf7214f9c1157d 
    • Abstract: In introducing the special issue on Large Class Pedagogy: Opportunities and Challenges of Massification the present editorial takes stock of the emerging literature on this subject. We seek to contribute to the massification debate by considering one result of it: large class teaching in higher education. Here we look to large classes as a problem in promoting student learning, quality education, and consequently as a challenge to socioeconomic development. That said, whilst large classes do pose very specific challenges, they also hold promise and opportunities for innovation in support of student learning. Here we consider the contributions to this special issue from a cross section of disciplines and higher education environments. 



  • Promoting student engagement with a large class (400+): Implications for large sized lectures, small group workshops and online teaching and learning 
  • Giblin, Fiona (2019) Pedagogy for Higher Education Large Classes 
  • http://doras.dcu.ie/24150/1/Giblin%202019%20FINAL%20with%20doi.pdf 
    • Abstract: Student engagement is widely accepted as a contributing factor on learning and success in higher education (Kahu, 2013). While a range of structural, psychosocial and  psychological variables reportedly impact on student engagement, the effects of class size and particularly large classes is frequently cited as a determining influence (Mulryan-Kyne, 2010; Cuseo, 2007). This paper will present a discussion on various practices as a means of promoting student engagement with 400+ student teachers in a variety of teaching and learning environments such as small group workshops, large sized lectures and online sessions, while simultaneously highlighting that the pedagogy of the faculty is most influential and innovative course design is required to promote student engagement in large classes.  


  • Innovation with scale: turning large class sizes into opportunities for pedagogical innovation 
  • Trim, Michelle, et al. (2017) Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.5555/3069658.3069684 
    • Abstract: Being an effective teacher is challenging; to do so when your enrollment doubles or triples can be overwhelming. To teach at scale requires the application of new teaching strategies, techniques, and tools to meet the demands of increasing enrollment. These large classes also present opportunities to innovate, either in terms of pedagogy or via inclusion of technological solutions. Where faculty may have been able to rely on charm and charisma as means of connecting to students, large lectures make connecting to students difficult. Research has shown that learner-centered strategies affect student perceptions of their learning [1], and that peer-based instruction [2] and mentoring improve student outcomes. Our panel seeks to share a range of adaptations, innovations, and practical strategies for facilitating rich learning experiences for undergraduates in large learning environments.


  • Transferring interactive activities in large lectures from face-to-face to online settings 
  • Olsen, J.K., Faucon, L. and Dillenbourg, P. (2020) Information and Learning Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-04-2020-0109 
    • Abstract: Within higher education, there was an abrupt shift from face-to-face to online lecturing with the introduction of social distancing measures in light of a global pandemic. The purpose of this study is to enrich the connection between students and instructors, the authors integrated elaborated interactive activities into large online lectures to enhance both students’ cognitive activities and social presence. In this study, the goals are twofold. First, the authors introduce a classroom orchestration system and its features that support active learning across learning environments. Second, they investigate the differences and similarities between student behaviors during these activities in face-to-face and online settings. The findings reveal individual differences in student behaviors between student cohorts, but no differences between learning environments, highlighting the versatility of the orchestration system across face-to-face and online environments. This work presents the use of a classroom orchestration tool that is designed to easily support teaching and learning in online and face-to-face contexts and is particularly well suited for large classes. Online lectures can be more than watching a teacher speaking on the computer display. Rich class-wide learning activities can be integrated into online lectures to support more cognitive engagement during the lecture.