In the online learning environment students need to feel that they matter and they are being listened to, rather than being handed content and left on their own.
To make the experience meaningful, for you as well as students, you need to connect. You do this by establishing your presence. To achieve presence, you need to be active in the online environment.
- Introduce yourself, give students overall information about the unit, how to navigate and other important information (e.g. assessment due in week 6, support resources here).
- Students may feel bombarded by messages. Make sure your communication counts. Keep it brief. Tell them what they need to know, no more, no less.
- Use short sentences.
- Tone is important. Be friendly and informative. Think of it as a conversation.
Use the discussion board to create a community within the unit
- Set up with a greeting indicating how often they can expect you to visit (usually once a day).
- Welcome each participant on their first posting, acknowledging them. Mention each participant by name at some point.
- Continue to mention individuals in postings. This is very motivating and boosts connections.
- Run an early online activity, explore how participants can fit the discussion boards into their daily lives/study balance.
- Create an environment where students feel safe to take a risk, so they can contribute, share their ideas and ask questions.
- Check the site and the discussion board often to check everything is going smoothly and to monitor conversations.
- Keep a word bank of responses in a Word document. Many queries and comments require a very similar answer.
Students studying online need lots of support. For many this may be their first experience.
- Reach out to students you think are in trouble/ lagging/ disengaged as soon as you perceive an issue.
- The Learning Zone provides a range of supports for students including quick guides, peer support, student appointments and academic skills guidance.
- Any problems or challenges, move quickly and speak with someone on your team (e.g. Unit Assessor, Course Coordinator, Discipline Lead). Ask your colleagues in your team for support and guidance.
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