Whether you are a new or seasoned online instructor, understanding how to establish and maintain instructor presence is a commonly shared challenge. What is known about online learners is they want to know their instructors are engaged and regularly interacting in the course. Students also express how important it is to know that their instructors care about them.
There is a natural distance inherent in online classrooms which necessitates purposeful actions and intentional structures to prevent isolation and to foster connection. There is great news… this distance can be overcome! Moreover, research has indicated that instructor presence has a relationship with perceived student satisfaction and success. Being there for your students can make a difference!
Being present goes a step further beyond students perceiving that their instructors are there. By definition, instructor presence is “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social process for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.” This may sound like a significant undertaking, but rest assured that you can craft your presence over time and that you have ample support from the Ecampus team. We can help bring your ideas to life!
Keep in mind that curating instructor presence will be an evolution. Learning environments and experiences are dynamic. In addition, the composition of students will change each term, so learner needs and wants will continually shift. Strategies used within a specific context may not work for another, and that is okay.
Let’s get started!
Try starting out small by exploring different ideas. Don’t be afraid to change directions if one approach doesn’t work. With all that said, what are some strategies for establishing and maintaining presence which can be leveraged today?
- Welcome announcements
- Instructor introduction video
- About your instructor page
- Course overview video
- Virtual office hours or individualized virtual sessions to connect with students
- Personalized language to humanize the learning experience
- Non-graded community building spaces to connect around complex learning activities
- Announcements to send regular updates, reminders, and check-ins
- Tip! Announcements can also be leveraged to share and highlight valuable connections, expand upon those insights, and provide relevant resources for learners to explore.
- Monitor learner progress
- Regular and timely feedback which is clear and actionable
- Outreach to learners who are struggling or engagement is lacking
- Present content in diverse ways
- Module overview videos
- Audio recordings (e.g. podcast)
- Screencast demonstrations
- Engage in course discussions
- Solicit student feedback
- Tip! Consider adding a short anonymous survey in the middle of the course.
As ideas begin to percolate, please do share those with your Instructional Designer so that together you can explore different strategies and tools that will work best for you.
- Budhai, S., & Williams, M. (2016). Teaching Presence in Online Courses: Practical Applications, Co-Facilitation, and Technology Integration. The Journal of Effective Teaching,16(3), 76-84.
- Ekmekci, O. (2013). Being There: Establishing Instructor Presence in an Online Learning Environment. Higher Education Studies, 3(1), 29-38.
- Jaggers, S., Edgecombe, N., & West-Stacey, G. (2013, April). Creating an Effective Online Instructor Presence. Retrieved from https://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/effective-online-instructor-presence.pdf
- Ladyshewsky, R. K. (2013). Instructor Presence in Online Courses and Student Satisfaction. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(1). doi:10.20429/ijsotl.2013.070113
- Sandercock, I. (2014, October 14). The Importance of Instructor Presence in Online Courses. Retrieved from https://teachonline.asu.edu/2014/10/important-instructor-presence-online-course/
- Smith, T. (2014, September 30). Managing Instructor Presence Online. Retrieved from http://teachonline.asu.edu/2012/08/managing-instructor-presence-online/#more-1069