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Faculty often express concern over how to maintain personal relationships with their students in an online course space; incorporating optional synchronous elements to an online course can help “put a face” to a name. Zoom, the video conferencing tool that allows you to create synchronous experiences for their students, has become ubiquitous in educational and businesses in the past two years.
Whether experienced or new to online teaching, following these tips on online instruction can make the process more intuitive. The online environment may seem vastly different from the classroom, but these tips will make it feel natural, allowing you to improve student experience, increase teaching efficacy, cultivate engagement, and ensure successful course management.
In online courses, opportunities for student engagement need to be deliberately designed (Martin & Bolliger, 2018). One common way to promote student engagement online is through discussion forums, for which there are widespread established best practices. However, the Q&A discussion forum, which is typically not graded or required, is often thrown into a course without clear intentions or structure. When purposefully designed, a Q&A forum can facilitate the crucial engagement types that are essential to building a community of inquiry in an online classroom, ultimately improving student satisfaction and learning outcomes. These engagement types are student-content, student-student, and student-instructor (Bernard et al., 2009 as cited in Martin & Bolliger, 2018). A Q&A forum should incorporate best practices around all three engagement types.
Consistent and meaningful instructor presence is one of the most important drivers of student success and satisfaction in online courses (Roddy et al., 2017). However, establishing instructor presence online can be challenging. In fact, studies have shown that many online students feel their instructors are largely invisible (Tichavsky et al., 2015).
The most difficult task in transitioning from on-ground to online teaching is determining the best way to emulate the community and engagement inherent in a face-to-face classroom.Consider this: Your online classroom can be even more engaging than an on-campus classroom. Simple tools, such as discussion forums and announcements, can elevate your classroom immensely.