There is a strong correlation between learner interaction and engagement, sense of community, and success in online learning (e.g., Sadera, Robertson, Song, & Midon, 2009). Therefore, it is important to not only design your course in a way that facilitates connection, but also to ensure that instructor-student and student-student interaction is frequent and personal throughout the course. It would be a mistake to assume that the work is done once an online course is designed and built. No matter how well-designed a course is, the instructor plays a vital role in facilitating learning throughout the course. Students need your explanations, your examples, your guidance, your encouragement, your feedback – in short, your presence.
Online/hybrid instructors should familiarize themselves with the Community of Inquiry Framework, summarized here by Purdue University, which discusses teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence in online learning environments.
Below, you’ll find more guidance and resources to support you as you actively facilitate your online or hybrid course.
Quick Tips on Creating Community from Learning Academy Faculty Consultants for Online Teaching
Try to meet with your students during the first week of class! Although time consuming, this allows you to begin developing relationships with you students at the very beginning of the course. During this brief meeting, you can get to know your students a little better, review the most important things they need to know about the course, answer any initial questions and address their concerns. Research has shown that students really appreciate and value interaction with their online instructors, and this is a great chance to do that. – Shenika Harris, Associate Professor of Spanish
Make sure to upload your photo in Canvas and ask students to do the same. Being able to associate a face with comments helps to build connections. I use a casual photo and also include informal information about myself, like my hobbies, in my bio. Also, don’t forget an icebreaker just because the course is online. Give students the chance to introduce themselves and get to know one another in fun ways. – Colleen Biri, Professor of Psychology
Sadera, W., Robertson, J., Song, L, and Midon, M. (June 2009). The Role of Community in Online Learning Success. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5(2). Retrieved on July 7, 2012 from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol5no2/sadera_0609.htm.
Topics in Course Delivery
Anti-racist Teaching Resources
Recent events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing deaths of BIPOC at the hands of law enforcement, have reinforced the need for inclusive and explicitly anti-racist teaching strategies in order to support and educate all students.