Be Present in Your Online Course – Part 3

This is the third and final post in a series on creating social presence in an online course.

Where are you in your online course?  

Do students hear from you in your online course as they would in a face-to-face class? Do they feel that you are a real person? In  Part 1 of this 3-part blog series on Social Presence in eLearning I talked about using video in your course welcome and in the modules/weekly units, and in Part 2  I discussed different ways to give feedback for instructor presence. In this last post, I will cover being present in the course content. 

As an instructional designer, I have seen faculty so caught up in the design format and mechanics of creating the course that they forget to ‘teach’ in their online courses. They include key items such as  modules/weekly work with the pdfs, quizzes, assigned readings and discussion boards yet have no instruction such as a video or narrated powerpoint. Remember to teach.

You are important

The reason that a student takes your course is to learn from YOU, not from a textbook that they can read on their own. They want to hear about your background, life experiences, professional examples in the field and your knowledge from years of researching your content area. This is what you bring to the course, even if you use a textbook or TedTalk video or any other form of learning, be sure to share your personal and professional knowledge and experiences on the topics. Students would like to hear how the course content can be applied in their careers. How does one include this and build in the social presence that students require?

Design yourself into the online content

When designing your online course, picture yourself teaching the course previously and how you delivered the content/instruction to the students face-to-face (f2f). If you haven’t taught the course f2f, then picture how you would deliver the content/lessons/instruction. What types of stories would you insert when you talk through each content topic? What questions would you insert and ask for student comprehension as you access the body language of the class? Would you break students into partners or groups and rotate to check in and answer any questions? 

Now let’s apply this same instruction level to an online course. Here are a few recommendations to ensure that you are in your course content, and sharing your experiences in the field, as you design it for online learning:

  • Instructional videos by you broken into topics of 10-15 minutes in length
  • Narrated slides
  • Discussion board participation with links to resources
  • Articles published by you
  • Synchronous online chats (use as a class session)
  • Discussion board scenarios using your career scenarios
  • Use discussion boards to check on the module/week’s topic student comprehension
  • Join in online group meetings briefly to answer assignment questions

Remember you are valuable in the course that you are teaching. Have fun with it as you share life and career experiences and how it relates to the content topic. Students will benefit as they learn from you, a real person, teaching online.

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

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