Lack of a personal connection with the teacher is a major obstacle toward student success online. Students report less motivation, less engagement, and less understanding when they can't see or know the teachers, and studies suggest that lack of teacher presence hurts students performance. See our research papers on social presence and interaction.
Instructor presence in a class can be created in multiple ways, choose those that fit your style:
- Communicate (on course site, announcements, etc.) in a personable, approachable way
- Use pictures and videos of yourself whenever possible
- Communicate early and often with frequent course announcements and reminders about upcoming deadlines and changes, tell students how often they need to check the site
- Offer regular opportunities for questions and answers--consider a mix of options like email, text, a discussion forum, or online office hours, set expectations on response times
- Consider a weekly announcement with an overview of the upcoming learning activities and topics, and brief reminder of important topics from the prior week
Voices from the Trenches
- Tips for using Zoom for effective interactions
- Article by Flower Darby on how to be a good online instructor, including a reminder to "show up to class" just like you would for a face-to-face class, be yourself, and put yourself in your students' shoes
- Video by Dr. Rebecca Glazier on improving online learning through humanizing
- White paper from Purdue with suggestions and resources for increasing social presence
- Pecansky-Brock humanizing online learning site, with infographics, podcasts, and resources to support instructors
- CSU Channel Islands tool box site, with clear suggestions on a number of digital tools to support increasing instructor presence in the course
- Google has provided free access to their advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite for Education customers; resources in their Teacher Center.
- Other tools are also making themselves available, so if there's something you've been wanting to try out you might check their site. One example: TechSmith's video recording and screen casting tools, see their resources to transitioning to remote learning.
- For those on Blackboard, here's a quick video on using the Collaborate tool.