COVID-19 forced marketing education online, physically separating faculty from their students complicating communication, and generally disrupting the social process of learning. COVID-19 changed education in unprecedented ways, leaving many marketing educators teaching courses online for the first time. The change in modality motivated our research to understand a students’ perspective of what practices have and have not worked in this pandemic-constrained learning environment. Using a phronetic, iterative approach, we analyze 110 student reflections from 3 different marketing courses that transitioned online in the lock-down. The qualitative exploration of this rapid transition from the classroom to online course delivery reveals the use of synchronous video-conference platforms enables student-centered practices that can increase social presence and enhance students’ motivation, engagement, and perceived learning. We develop a conceptual continuum between transactional distance and social presence where these important student-centered dimensions can be influenced by faculty practices. Based on our results we develop a pathway to successful learning. Actionable propositions are offered to aid faculty in increasing social presence in the online delivery of marketing education. This study provides student insights and faculty guidance to design virtual course offerings that demonstrate motivating and engaging to students despite physical separation between faculty and students.