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Being There Shaping Presence in the Online Classroom.

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Presentation on theme: "Being There Shaping Presence in the Online Classroom."— Presentation transcript:

1 Being There Shaping Presence in the Online Classroom

2 Pop Quiz: How does who you are – your style, your personality, the way you interact with students, influence the way students interact with each other? Does any of this matter? Does building a sense of community help learning?

3 “Community Scaffolding” “Understanding how to build and manage a positive social dynamic can encourage knowledge construction in ways that extend learning opportunities in the online classroom” (Woods and Ebersole).

4 “Community Scaffolding” Woods and Ebersole use the phrase “Community Scaffolding” to describe a means of bridging “the gap between the task…and interpersonal… requirements of online learning.”

5 The “Communal Architect” “Someone who erects a communal scaffold for the purposes of community building.” In other words: The person who creates the space in which community happens.

6 In other words: (Well, not necessarily me. The teacher – you!)

7 So how do we do it? By being there – letting students feel our presence.

8 Being There (Immediacy): Letting students know we’re there. “…studies demonstrate the power of instructor immediacy on creating a greater sense of classroom community among learners” (Woods and Ebersole).

9 6 Tricks of the Trade 1. Immediacy 2. Discussion boards 3. Personalized e-mail 4. Live chat 5. Use of audio/visual 6. The real world

10 Trick 1: Immediacy -- Timeliness 1. Respond quickly to student questions and posts (24 hours should be your absolute max). 2. Give regular, timely feedback. 3. Be proactive – initiate discussion and ask questions.

11 Trick 1: Immediacy -- Tone Carefully consider tone. I prefer an informal tone for workaday communication. Be Reader FriendlyReader Friendly Use the “You Approach” – address students by name, and use the word “you” to help establish a sense of relationship Part of establishing an “informal tone” is using and allowing the use of emoticons.

12 8 - 0 Emoticons!?! >: - ( I don’t think so!!! {:-{)} No, really! (And yes, I can read minds. Can’t every teacher?) I know what you’re probably thinking…

13 Emoticons help convey tone Thompsen and Folger found that the use of emoticons reduced reader perception of anger in e-mail (qtd. in Woods and Ebersole). They do this by helping to replace visual cues such as gestures and facial expressions. Not appropriate in all circumstances – but used judiciously, they can enhance the social experience of participants (Gunawardena and Zittle, qtd. in Woods and Ebersole).

14 Trick 1: Immediacy -- Expose Yourself Use personal examples Give students a glimpse into your day-to-day life.

15 Trick 2: Use those Discussion Boards! Begin the course with a “getting to know you” forum for introductions. Encourage open conversations – discussion boards should be “safe.” To make this work, set standards for communication – or undertake an “Appreciative Inquiry” to let students develop their own standards. Build in an online “water cooler.”

16 Trick 3: Personalized E-mail Drop students a line – acknowledging good work, offering encouragement, guiding lost souls back to the straight way. Studies have shown that as few as 3 personal e-mails over the course of the term have been “positively associated with students’ sense of online community and overall satisfaction with the learning experience” (Woods, qtd. in Woods and Ebersole).

17 Trick 4: Live Chat Schedule a few chat sessions during the term, and/or Offer “virtual” office hours. Students who chat with the instructor “might perceive the instructor as ‘more real’ than those who don’t participate” (Woods and Ebersole).

18 Trick 6: Audio/Visual Some use of audio or visual files can re- introduce the visual cues we all rely on in day-to-day communication. Especially useful if you’re not sure your writing is conveying the tone you intend.

19 Trick 6: The Real World Don’t forget – there is a world outside the Net! Face-to-face orientation Field trips Informal get-togethers Service learning or group work Telephone

20 Tips for Getting Off on the Right Foot: Post an announcement setting the tone for the course.announcement Make sure your syllabus includes guidelines for discussion, contact information and turnaround times for assignments. Send a welcome e-mail to the entire class Open an introductions conference. Respond briefly to every post!introductions Consider an audio or video intro.

21 Keep the Romance Alive: Immediacy Weekly announcements/e-mail -- make some reference to your own life in your announcements – let students “see” you in your natural habitat! Put in that water cooler. Offer virtual office hours

22 Keep the Romance Alive: Discussion If possible, frame early discussion questions to allow continued self-revelations (i.e. “reflect on how your own experience supports or contradicts what our author has said”). Take an active part in discussions – don’t respond to every post, but make sure your presence is felt. If possible, respond at different times of day. Create small group activities.

23 Keep the Romance Alive: Be There Offer virtual office hours during which you’re available for live chat – these can even correspond to your “real” office hours. If your students live in the same area, offer to arrange an informal, face-to-face get together at least once during the term. Look for opportunities to e-mail individual students – remember, only 3 can make a difference. If a student’s drifting, pick up the phone!

24 What else? What other strategies might we use to establish our persona and build community in online courses? What concerns do you have with those I’ve recommended?

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