Teaching online is a challenge. It’s easy to feel disconnected from our students and not engage with them as well as we could, especially since our university reaches a broad audience of students through several time zones. Asynchronosicity often is the best approach for our courses, so, if we can’t get everyone together to Collaborate , Skype, or IM what are our options?
How can we create meaningful learning interactions to engage our students?
Show your face
I’ve mentioned this before in previous articles because I think it is so important to let students get a glimpse of who you are.
- Post a picture with your introduction
- Post an introductory video
- Post an occasional video lecture
Camera shy? Create an audio lecture and post your picture with it. Students can see your face while hearing your voice
Let students show their faces (their personalities, their creativity, etc.)
- Ask students to post a video introducing themselves. Aside from traditional video, students can post a composite of photos, favorite songs, an audio or video greeting… something that shows who they are.
- Encourage students to respond to discussion questions with a video or audio response. Ask students to post an audio or video response to discussion questions
Remember that you set the tone for the level of interactivity in your course. To build meaningful instructor-student and student-student interactions:
- Make sure students can reach you. Let them know hours of availability and answer emails within 24 hours.
- Foster peer-peer relationships. (Introductions, wikis, blogs or discussion board, group projects)
- Model online behavior that makes you seem more “real”: share photos, participate in discussions, give assignment feedback. Be personable and use humor and share personal stories when appropriate
In addition to building those online relationships that help students stay engaged, it is also important to refresh and renew your course periodically and find tools and new ideas (such as those described in this article) to keep your course relevant and interesting.