A Curated List of Remote/Distance/Online Instructional/Learning Resources, Applications, and Tutorials – Part 2

Guest Blog by Bryan J. Blair, Ph.D., LABA, BCBA-D, Jesslyn N. Farros, Ph.D., BCBA-D, and Cheryl Davis, Ph.D., LABA, BCBA-D

In Part 1 of this three-part series, we presented a list of common challenges and corresponding possible solutions in addition to a list of resources consisting of 3rd-party applications, resources, tutorials, trainings, and templates. In Part 2 that follows, we will expand on the descriptions of each challenge and corresponding solution/resource as well as provide empirical behavior analytic references for many of the proposed solutions, technologies, systems, etc.

Even though some research has been conducted on characteristics and aspects of distance/online learning modalities, much of that research has been conducted with substantial limitations (e.g., poor experimental control). Furthermore, there is limited empirical research that compares the efficacy of distance/online learning to more traditional modalities. Generally speaking, current research suggests that the efficacy of online instruction is comparable to traditional in-person instruction and is most effective when the format is instructor-directed with active student responding and feedback rather than relying solely on collaboration between/among students (Markova et al., 2005; McCutcheon et al., 2018; Chirikov et al., 2020; Lenz et al., 2006; U.S. Department of Education, 2010). In addition, requiring multiple modalities of instruction within the online platform (e.g., discussion boards, synchronous video chats, quizzes, written papers, research assignments, applied projects, etc.) has been shown to be effective. Unfortunately, there is minimal research on the specific components of online instruction that make it most effective; however, one study found that requiring discussion forums within an asynchronous course did improve student outcomes (Malkin et al., 2018). Additionally, Farros et al. (in press) found that the addition of synchronous discussion sessions within an asynchronous course increased student participation but did not have an effect on their course performance. Discussion forums are readily available in most online course platforms (e.g., Blackboard and Canvas).

Although the research is limited with regard to online/distance learning, there are ways of incorporating evidence-based behavior analytic teaching practices into an online/distance learning format using free and widely available instructional and learning tools and applications. The following descriptions of solutions, tools, and applications all make use of empirically supported procedures based on basic behavior analytic principles.

Descriptions of Solutions and Evidence Base/Supporting Research

Use Branching in Google Forms Quizzes or interactive Google Slides to create a quasi-independent self-graded instructional and learning module.

Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) was developed by Fred S. Keller and J. Gilmour Sherman and published as The Keller Plan in 1974 (Keller & Sherman, 1974). PSI allows students to move at their own pace while immediately receiving feedback without waiting for the instructor (Cihon & Swisher, 2018a, 2018b). This means students may move through material faster or slower depending on their educational needs. Sherman (1992) summarized a plethora of research that demonstrated PSI is a highly effective method of instruction as well as being preferred by students. When first developed, PSI was paper and pencil format; however, computer-aided PSI courses have been evaluated as early as 1996 (Pear & Novak, 1996). This form of instruction is easily adapted to an online environment, especially when using supports such as Google Forms Quizzes and interactive Google Slides (Blair & Shawler, 2019). This method is also consistent with the recommendation made by Cihon and Swisher (2020) for students to test themselves while studying. Additional information regarding PSI can also be found here.

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Use Quizlet Live, Kahoot, Mentimeter, or Poll Everywhere to create in-the-moment low-stakes formative assessments.

Use Screencastify to quickly and easily record short (5-10 minute) video reviews of material that you might not have time to cover during synchronous live sessions (e.g., syllabus reviews, assignment instructions, current event discussions, FAQs, etc.). Use Edpuzzle to increase active student responding by embedding questions and adding viewer tracking capabilities to previously recorded lectures.

Use interactive virtual whiteboards like Jamboard or Explain Everything to draw diagrams, equations, or brainstorms, and to promote interactive and collaborative projects and activities.

Another instructional method that has been demonstrated to be effective is active student responding (ASR), which includes a variety of strategies (e.g., response cards, choral responding, and guided notes) (Twyman & Heward, 2016). Although there is minimal research on ASR specifically with college students (Kellum et al., 2010), there is a plethora of research with elementary, middle, and high school students (Drevno et al., 1994; Musti-Rao et al., 2008) (an exhaustive list of references may be found here). There are several different ways to incorporate these strategies into an online learning environment. For example, instructors may use resources such as Quizlet Live, Kahoot, or the poll option in Zoom to have students respond during a synchronous class. Prior to class, students can be instructed to develop response cards for the upcoming class and during the session, instructors can provide opportunities for students to use the response cards over video just as they would in a traditional classroom. For asynchronous classes, guided notes complement pre-recorded videos for learning content. Instructors may also use Edpuzzle to embed questions into pre-recorded videos to ensure active student responding. Additionally, the inclusion of synchronous discussion sessions (when possible) increases student responding when added to asynchronous courses (Farros et al., in press). In order to provide immediate visual feedback for responding, a virtual whiteboard can be used during synchronous remote sessions for the illustration of concepts, and instructors can require students to engage with the on-screen stimuli (e.g., categorize clinical examples, matching activities, etc.). By utilizing these resources as discussed by Cihon and Swisher (2018), immediate feedback can be provided to students with minimal additional effort from the instructor which leads to improved student performances over time.

Use Jeopardy Labs trivia game creator or Quizlet Live and Google Hangouts (chat) to create an interactive small-group competitive quiz. Create a “Team Trivia” game implemented across the semester. Winners of the games have bragging rights or earn extra credit.

Making learning fun is an idea that has been around for ages, but it is not always implemented. Creating a fun, interactive, and group learning environment is easily done in an online environment. Not only does making learning fun increase student engagement (Tews et al., 2015), but group learning has been shown to have benefits for individual students (Lou et al., 2001). Gamification (see Morford et al., 2014) can also be used with a variety of skills and settings, including clinical and applied (Parry-Cruwys & MacDonald, 2020). Tools and formats such as Jeopardy Labs, Quizlet Live, Google Hangouts, and “Team Trivia” can all be incorporated into an online learning environment to enhance learning opportunities and course structures.

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Use Google Slides live captioning or Google Meet live captioning when connecting with students via a live/recorded synchronous video meeting or webinar.

There are many benefits of synchronous discussion sessions such as allowing students to immediately ask questions and receive instant feedback, engage in discussion with their instructor and fellow students, and have a sense of community that is often lost with asynchronous learning (Nguyen & Zhang, 2011; Kemp & Grieve, 2014). However, there are also downsides to synchronous discussion. For example, there is limited flexibility since students cannot engage on their own time. Students report that they tend to prefer asynchronous learning (Buxton, 2014) over synchronous, but the use of live captioning and recording synchronous discussion sessions may help to bridge the gap. Students would be able to access the synchronous discussion sessions on their own time and location. They can access the recording in its entirety without missing any content since the text would be on the screen. They would also receive the benefit of accessing the discussion that occurred.

Use Zoom “Breakout Room” feature to automatically assign students to small groups and instructor can facilitate discussion by rotating presence across virtual groups.

Interteaching is a behavioral teaching method that incorporates peer tutoring, cooperative learning, and problem-solving (Boyce & Hineline, 2002). Although interteaching has not been specifically evaluated in an online/distance learning environment, it is easily incorporated into synchronous and asynchronous platforms. For example, Zoom is an synchronous platform which allows the instructor to assign students to different “breakout” rooms away from the main classroom allowing for pairs or groups of students to complete the interteach activities. When conducting asynchronous courses, rather than the interteach occurring during class time, students may be assigned to pairs or groups to complete the interteach. The students would then be instructed to schedule time with their groupmate(s) to complete the interteach. Because this would be completed using a video-conference platform, the sessions may also be recorded if the instructor would like to review. When compared to traditional lecture, Saville et al. (2006) found that interteaching was not only preferred by students but also improved quiz and test scores.

Continuing Series

In Part 3, the final post in this series, we will provide short video tutorials demonstrating some of these resources in practice.


Blair, B. J., & Shawler, L. A. (2019). Developing and implementing emergent responding training systems with available and low-cost computer-based learning tools: Some best practices and a tutorial. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-019-00405-x

Boyce, T. E., & Hineline, P. N. (2002). Interteaching: A strategy for enhancing the user-friendliness of behavioral arrangements in the college classroom. The Behavior Analyst, 25(2), 215–226. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03392059

Buxton, E. C. (2014). Pharmacists’ perception of synchronous versus asynchronous distance learning for continuing education programs. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78 (1), Article 8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930256/

Chirikov, I., Semenova, T., Maloshonok, N., Bettinger, E., & Kizilcec, R. F. (2020). Online education platforms scale college STEM instruction with equivalent learning outcomes at lower cost. Science Advances, 6(15). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aay5324

Cihon, T., & Swisher, M.  (2018a, October, 23). Slow and steady wins the race? [Blog post].  https://science.abainternational.org/slow-and-steady-wins-the-race/

Cihon, T., & Swisher, M.  (2018b, December, 2).  Level Up! with Personalized Learning [Blog post]. https://science.abainternational.org/level-up-with-personalized-learning/

Cihon, T., & Swisher, M.  (2020, April, 23). Surviving and thriving in a changing academic environment: Tips for academic success – Part 1. https://science.abainternational.org/surviving-and-thriving-in-a-changing-academic-environment-tips-for-academic-success-part-1/

Drevno, G. E., Kimball, J. W., Possi, M. K., Heward, W. L., Gardner, R., & Barbetta, P. M. (1994). Effects of active student response during error correction on the acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of science vocabulary by elementary students: A systematic replication. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27(1), 179–180. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1994.27-179

Farros, J. N., Shawler, L. A., Gatzunis, K. S., & Weiss, M. J. (in press). Online learning: The effect of synchronous discussion sessions in an asynchronous course. Journal of Behavioral Education.

Keller, F.S., & Sherman, J.G. (1974). The Keller plan handbook. W.A. Benjamin, Inc.

Kellum, K. K., Carr, J. E., & Dozier, C. L. (2001). Response-card instruction and student learning in a college classroom. Teaching of Psychology, 28(2), 101-104. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15328023TOP2802_06

Kemp, N. and Grieve, R. (2014). Face-to-face or face-to-screen? Undergraduates’ opinions and test performance in classroom vs. online learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1278. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01278

Lenz, T. L., Monaghan, M. S., Wilson, A. F., Tilleman, J. A., Jones, R. M., & Hayes, M. M. (2006). Using performance-based assessments to evaluate parity between a campus and distance education pathway. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 70(4), 90. https://doi.org/10.5688/aj700490

Lou, Y., Abrami, P. C., & d’Apollonia, S. (2001). Small group and individual learning with technology: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543071003449

Malkin, A., Rehfeldt, R. A., & Shayter, A. M. (2016). An Investigation of the Efficacy of Asynchronous Discussion on Students’ Performance in an Online Research Method Course. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 11(3), 274–278. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-016-0157-5

Markova, T., Roth, L. M., & Monsur, J. (2005). Synchronous distance learning as an effective and feasible method for delivering residency didactics. Family Medicine, 37(8), 570-575. https://api.semanticscholar.org/CorpusID:11035796

McCutcheon, K., O’Halloran, P., & Lohan, M. (2018). Online learning versus blended learning of clinical supervisee skills with pre-registration nursing students: A randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 82, 30-39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2018.02.005

Morford, Z. H., Witts, B. N., Killingsworth, K. J., & Alavosius, M. P. (2014). Gamification: the intersection between behavior analysis and game design technologies. The Behavior Analyst, 37(1), 25-40. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40614-014-0006-1

Musti-Rao, S., Kroeger, S. D., & Schumacher-Dyke, K. (2008). Using guided notes and response cards at the postsecondary level. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, 31(3), 149-163. http://doi.org/10.1177/0888406408330630

Nguyen, D. & Zhang, Y. J. (2011). College students’ attitudes toward learning process and outcome of online instruction and distance learning across learning styles. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 8 (12), 35-42. https://doi.org/10.19030/tlc.v8i12.6619

Parry-Cruwys, D., & MacDonald, J. (2020). Using gamification to promote accurate data entry of practicum experience hours in graduate students. Behavior Analysis in Practicehttps://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-020-00421-2

Pear, J. J., & Novak, M. (1996). Computer-aided personalized system of instruction: A program evaluation. Teaching of Psychology, 23(2), 119–123. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top2302_14

Saville, B. K., Zinn, T. E., Neef, N. A., Van Norman, R., & Ferreri, S. J. (2006). A comparison of interteaching and lecture in the college classroom. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 39(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.2006.42-05

Sherman J. G. (1992). Reflections on PSI: Good news and bad. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25(1), 59–64. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1992.25-59

Tews, M., Jackson, K., Ramsay, C. M., & Michel, J. W. (2015). College teaching fun in the college classroom: Examining its nature and relationship with student engagement. College Teaching, 63(1), 16-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/87567555.2014.972318

Twyman, J. S., & Heward, W. L. (2016). How to improve student learning in every classroom now. International Journal of Educational Research, 87, 78-90.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2016.05.007

U.S. Department of Education (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/reports.html

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