By Katie Metzler - Associate Vice President, Product Innovation, SAGE Publishing.

Online learning done well can remove barriers to learning by offering flexible ways to learn new skills, whenever you want and wherever you are. But creating effective online learning isn’t easy and the challenges are especially pronounced when teaching complex and advanced topics such as social research methods, statistics and data science.

In our new white paper, co-authored with Debbie Collins at Southampton University, Nicholas Fernando of Grow Learning and Andy Kirk, data visualisation expert and trainer, we present a review of the current literature on approaches to teaching research skills online and tell the story of developing SAGE Campus, a suite of online data science courses for social scientists. Our goal is to share insights and guidance for faculty, librarians, learning technologists and educators who are planning to develop their own online courses in the future, or would like to incorporate online course material into their curriculum.

In our white paper, we offer the following top ten tips for designing effective online learning based on our experiences of developing SAGE Campus courses:

  1. Make it practical and interactive.

  2. Make your online learning a resource learners can easily navigate and revisit if needed.

  3. Keep the learning times manageable.

  4. Continuously improve your course using learner data.

  5. Stay learner-focused - think about the learner first and foremost whenever you’re creating content.

  6. Motivate your learners. Learner interaction can be delivered through course design, through the platform you deliver your course on, and directly via email.

  7. Engage with your learners, choosing a method that suits them.

  8. Innovate! Experiment with gamification, badges, animations and GIFs.

  9. Help learners complete. It’s difficult to fit online courses into busy schedules, so give learners a helping hand in getting to the finish line.

  10. But consider what course completion means to your learners. Even if they haven’t ticked off every exercise or module in the course, they may have gained the skills that they set out to learn.

Have you or has your institution used e-Learning to teach data science, research methods or statistics? We’d love to hear about your experience! Contact us at

Read the White Paper

Find out more about SAGE Campus

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