I think one of the most important concepts that has impacted my thoughts on student engagement and retention during this course is that there is no significant difference between different media when it comes to student achievement. Yet when students are asked what they prefer, they like video presentation of ideas. This reinforces the notion that we like connection to others whether in person or on-line.
Additionally, as Vaughan et al. suggest, video introductions to the course environment and short tutorials on difficult course concepts or problems really help students. Finally talking about one’s experience with the course material as an instructor and encouraging students to do so also makes a demonstrable difference in student engagement.
As a result, I plan to use a picture of me on every post I make. I will make sure to use a conversational tone, be respectful, positive and encouraging to students. Also, once I get my course, I will provide a short video introduction to it and provide short tutorials that highlight practical personal application on difficult course concepts. I also will make sure to respond in a timely fashion to questions and to contact students who haven’t posted asap to show them that I’m present. Asking students what worked and what didn’t work is another way to help increase engagement as well as to improve the course.
As for questions, at this point I haven’t taught the course so it’s tough to be more specific until I actually see how social presence plays out with my students when I’m actually teaching. I wonder if teaching graduate students makes a difference in terms of engagement in that they may have more desire to learn the material for their career?
A few strategies to help me out are to make sure I look at other’s ideas for increasing social presence ( I’ve got some links on my blog there). TRU has links to some great material from UBC and UVic too. I can also ask colleagues such as the online learning coordinator for ideas as well as my faculty mentor.
After progressing in this online learning course, I see some things I could have done differently in my first post. For example, I could have used a picture of me to personalize the post. When teaching the course, I will make sure to link the ideas in the post to the course specifically and directly. I liked that the tone of the post was conversational and I will continue to use that.
Some of the things I learned about social presence were good reminders about interpersonal interaction in general. Some strategies, I’ll appropriate include: Using a picture of self, calling people by their names, commenting on what they say, being positive, using a conversational tone, and using short tutorials to help learners in those parts of the course that are more difficult.
I’m a psychologist, a family member, a friend and someone who is always interested in learning more about people and how they (and I) operate in the world.
I love travelling and take every opportunity to go and see new places. This summer I was in Hong Kong and Korea. One of my favourite places is Italy, see the picture of Tuscany here; the light is fantastic!
This link outlines reasons to use groups on-line as well as handy tips for what to include to make them successful. I can see using group activities in my course so learners can collaborate on discussing cases and brainstorm with one another about how to think logically about what needs to happen before an assessment occurs. This fits with my practice as I believe we generally don’t work in a vacuum and need to talk/work with our colleagues to best serve our clients. This activity means learners use their interpersonal skills.
I plan to use group work in my course and will definitely keep the tips in mind in particular the ones around optimal group size.
This link gives a good overview of why we need to build social connection in on-line learning communities and gives specific ideas about how to do that. I like the notion of having students and the instructor post a picture or avatar beside their posts. I intend to do that in my course and will use many of the ideas listed to help build social connection.
I’m new to teaching in a 100% on-line learning environment. I currently teach face-face using Blackboard in a hybrid learning environment. This means I need to start from the beginning in some ways. The orientation activities from St. Cloud take students through class introductions, practicing submitting an assignment to dropbox and a practice quiz on the syllabus. It also discusses course structure and a course video from the instructor. This activity gives me a structured template for how to set things up for student success. I like that it keeps things simple but very friendly for students (and the instructor:)
Once I get my blackboard course, I will set up the activities for students to follow.