Dwinnells (2017) gives great advice on how to keep up with your online students and give them the feeling that you are present, or as he called it: How to Keep from Going MIA in Your Online Course. Many researchers have confirmed that instructor presence or immediacy positively correlate with student satisfaction and success. I will list his suggestions with my comments below. Click here to view the full Faculty Focus post.
- Set times to “go to class.” Advise your students (and do the same yourself) to check in every day for a few minutes and see if t here is a new discussion post or a question (for you), but actually “attend” the class for a half hour to an hour, two to three times a week.
- Find ways to personalize your course with your presence. Include media such as a welcome video or audio at the beginning of the course, or in Announcements, and consider video/audio feedback for some assignments. If you can’t do an audio/video try to post a picture of yourself and add some biographical information such as your hobbies and interests, besides your office hours and syllabus. This helps humanizing and personalizing you as an instructor, which ultimately creates a sense of presence and a feeling of community and safety for your students. Encourage them to do the same in a designated discussion forum.
- Seek opportunities to engage students in creative ways. Try to personalize feedback, mention your students’ names whenever you can.
- Use discussion boards wisely and often.
- Remember that online does not mean off-line: “One could have a beautifully designed online course, but with an off-line professor the learning experience will lack the depth, breadth, and richness of a true learning experience.”
Another point to consider is how nonverbal communication and gauging emotions is lost in online courses. There are ways to assess your student’s emotions and behavior in a fully online class. Here is a short article on emotional presence and why it matters.