As the semester gets underway, students will soon be working on projects, and papers, and taking midterms. This is a good time to make sure your students are benefiting from one of their greatest resources (hint: it’s you!)
Instructor presence, in its simplest form, is being there for your students. For in-person classes, this happens naturally as you engage with your students through lectures and conversations. Creating “presence” in online courses, however, requires deliberate and thoughtful planning. Instructor presence does more than provide a pleasant learning environment; strong instructor presence has been shown to facilitate deep learning and the creation of a community of inquiry.
The following suggestions from the Teaching and Learning Resource Center identify ways to help you enhance your Instructor Presence in your online courses.
Instructor Presence in Carmen
There are many opportunities for demonstrating instructor presence directly from your Carmen course.
Share regular weekly announcements or emails to alert students to important updates, provide supplemental material of academic interest such as conferences or university events, clarify misconceptions made apparent by assignments or exams, and answer commonly asked questions.
Include a page at the outset of each course module to introduce and contextualize the new material. A brief module summary can guide students to see how the new material will build upon what they’ve already learned. Module overviews can also explain how the content connects to course outcomes and direct students’ attention to upcoming activities and assignments. A short video, even one recorded from your phone, is an easy and personal way to accomplish these tasks.
Be sure to include instructional content authored or presented by you in the course so students connect you to the material they’re learning. Screencast or video lectures, podcasts, expert interviews conducted by you, and interactive lessons can be great ways to impart didactic information in a personable and relatable manner. While text and screencast lectures are both helpful means to incorporate your presence, studies have shown that students appreciate seeing as well as hearing their instructor. Enabling your camera during a video lecture or posting pictures of yourself in the course helps students feel more connected to you.
Feedback also serves as a way to maintain instructor presence and make students feel connected. Feedback is most effective when it is immediate, discriminating (for example, based on a rubric) offers corrective advice, and is supportive.
Don’t forget to ask for student feedback as well. A mid-course survey is a good way to reach out to students and find out if they are feeling connected and how your presence is perceived.
Video is a powerful tool instructors can use to create and maintain instructor presence. In addition to an introductory video at the start of the semester, instructors can also utilize videos throughout the year to introduce weekly modules, and wrap up concepts, as well as use explainer videos, and response videos for clarifying concepts and responding to students.
When teaching online courses, it’s easy to get caught up in technology and logistics, but don’t forget– just as in your in-person courses, your presence is equally critical and valuable to your online students.