Be Present in Your Online Course! – Part 2

This is the second in a post series on social presence in an online course.

Be there. An online learning experience should feel like a class, with people. It shouldn’t feel like an independent, isolating course or like you are responding to a CPU or robot. When you facilitate an online course, students take your course not only to gain knowledge from readings in the field of study, but more importantly, from your expertise and experience in the field.


Teaching an online class does not mean that you upload all of the content and let it play out on its own. Social presence is intentional. It is the difference between a low, or high, quality online course, with students being more likely to give high marks on evaluations to a course with good instructor social presence.

image-3Online course design and instruction has become common in recent years, yet it is still relatively new to many people. While good design and course structure are imperative to a quality online course, well-developed social presence in an online course has always been a need, yet is an emerging focus, and a new topic to many with prior online course instruction experience.

Many times faculty are so focused on designing the online course and ensuring links, assignments and quizzes all work appropriately, that they forget to teach from their experiences through sharing, as they would in a face-to-face classroom. While all of these items need to be given special focus, ensure that you include focus and planning as to where you will share and add your expertise to the course content and student learning.

Ways to Be There

Video use in multiple ways for instruction was covered in Part 1 of this series, and below are other ways to be present in your online course.


Although, the word feedback is used often, what does it mean in an online course? It means:

  • Comments offered on what a student did right and what could be improved, given on EVERY assignment submission
  • Answers given daily to any course questions in a discussion thread where students can ask questions about the course, and others who may have similar questions may view answers
  • Discussion board threads – be sure to post a couple times a week in the class threads, for redirecting, posting scholarly articles in reference to a student answer, and sharing your real-world experiences
  • Announcements or video wrap ups sent weekly to state what you saw and what was impressive in the week prior’s graded assignments and discussions

Review your online course for the items above and the video suggestions in Part 1 to include YOU in your course for improved social presence, as part of a high quality course.

Share your expertise in the field, a bit of your personality, your knowledge and have some fun with your class participants!

Written by Kelley E.B. Senkowski, Online Design Consultant


Higher Learning Commission (July 2009).Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Learning (Online Learning), Page 3. Retrieved from

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