Apr 10, 2020

NGPF Podcast: Zach Blattner on Best Practices for Teaching Online

This is the third in our podcast series on Teaching Remotely (first two podcasts in the series are here and here). Today you will hear from Zach Blattner, Asst. Professor of Practice at Relay Graduate School of Education. His specialty: online instruction for adult learners. After observing one of Zach's classes and seeing the multitude of ways that he engaged his students, I knew there was a great opportunity for NGPF to shift how we design and deliver PD based on his practices.

Zach will share his design principles for online lessons, the various ways he engages his students and the importance of creating norms and communities while teaching online. For teachers adapting to this new form of instruction, this podcast will be invaluable in moving you up the learning curve with lots of helpful hints and tips from an instructional guru. 


  • 0:00~1:10 Introduction
  • 1:10~3:54 Zach’s background teaching in the classroom
  • 3:54~5:25 Process of online teaching
  • 5:25~7:46 Techniques Zach uses to engage students
  • 7:46~9:57 Creating an online lesson from scratch 
  • 9:57~12:51 Tips on using Nearpod
  • 12:51~15:41 Utilizing break out rooms
  • 15:41~17:53 Making online classes as good or better than an in-person class
  • 17:53~20:16 Mistakes and challenges that arise when going online
  • 20:16~22:33 Creating communities and norms online
  • 22:33~24:31 Addressing the socio-emotional needs during the current situation
  • 24:31~25:56 How teachers are adapting to online learning
  • 25:56~27:28 Words of encouragement for teachers going online
  • 27:28~29:17 Conclusion



  • “I really didn’t know anything, I thought I was just going to screen share using Google Slides. That was all I had ever seen anyone else do and I thought that was what it was going to look like. And then as I started to dig into some tools and learning about them it completely changed the way I thought about it. Then, it was just about a lot of practice. At first, it was clunky and there was a lot going on and now I am so much more comfortable and aware of the things I need to do to prepare well.”

About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

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