As an educator, you are trying to provide students with the best educational experience, whether it be online or “in-seat.” Think of things you do in your real-life courses and how they can be translated into digital format. Do not be afraid to experiment. In the absence of meeting your students in a face to face course, how can higher education instructors make individualized connections with their students in the online course environment? Here are some ideas.
- Introduce yourself and demonstrate to the students that you have a passion for the subject of the course. Provide a video introduction. Provide your professional biography and a picture. Encourage students to do the same in the first discussion forum.
- Give students a choice. If you are an educator who truly differentiates, you will give students opportunities on assignments, projects, etc. Instead of authoring a paper every week, give students the choice of creating a short video, podcast, or presentation. Also, provide opportunities in disseminating information. Read this article or watch this video. Providing students with choices gives them an investment in the course.
- Review the instructions for assignments/discussion/assessments. Go over them and go over them again. Ensure that all instructions are clear and with step-by-step details, if necessary. Students can get easily frustrated when instructions are not clear.
- Your online classroom is filled with students who learn in a variety of ways. Following the principles of Universal Design for Learning (2018), instructors can provide students with multiple means of engagement, representation, and express. This includes working in modalities such as videos, audio, presentation, and project choices that help engage and encourage learning for all students and preferences. Differentiating instruction will keep your students engaged. Engaged Students = Retained Students.
- At some point in childhood, everyone dreams of becoming a teacher. Grading papers, writing on chalkboards, going to the faculty room. This is where peer review comes in. Ask students to review each other’s work. You will find that they are fantastic kind and sensitive to one another. Provide guidelines or a simple rubric for evaluating assignments. Ask students to work together in small groups or pairings. This will give your online students a chance to network and learn about one another. Online learning doesn’t have to be solitary. Allow students to develop a community in your course.
Rose, D. (2018). Universal Design for Learning[Scholarly project]. In Center for Applied Special Technology. Retrieved December 20, 2018, from http://www.cast.org