Do you have a fear of teaching an online course? Do you think that your personality will not shine through on the web? Has this stopped you from teaching online in the past? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions then you need to know that there is nothing to fear. Teaching online does not mean that you have to lose the personal touch with your students.
The first step in allowing your students to get to know you is to include an instructor introduction in your course. This can be done in a couple of different ways:
- Have your video team create a video introduction to include in the course. You need to be prepared and write and practice your script beforehand. When writing your introduction be careful to write it with a feeling that you want to convey in the course. If you are formal, write and deliver your script in a formal manner. On the other hand, if you are informal, write and deliver your script in an informal manner.
- If you are not comfortable in front of a camera or if you do not have a video team available to you, you can simply include a written introduction in the beginning module of your course. Same rules apply – write like you would say it in person!
It is not only your persona that needs to shine through in an online course, but also the personas of your students. It is beneficial to have them write a brief introduction about themselves. You can also do this in a few different ways:
- Create an introduction assignment the first week of class. Ask students specific questions that will guide them through the assignment and you will get the information you feel is important to the course. The information you gather may be important later on in the course if you want to divide the class up into groups for special projects.
- Start an online discussion with those same questions that can be shared with all the students in the class. Through a threaded discussion the students get to know each other and they can ask their own questions to help build their online relationships.
- Have each student create their own blog and let them post their thoughts based on the questions you ask. This blog site, whether it is built in or outside of the course, can be utilized for other writing assignments throughout the course.
Including these types of activities early on helps set the tone in the course and fosters better discussions and collaboration throughout the term.
Part 2 of this article will be available online tomorrow.
Eileen Narozny is an instructional designer at the University of Central Florida.