Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part III

Previous posts –

Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part I
Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part II

In this concluding blog let’s get to know ‘Building Virtual Community’ by online instructors which also plays a vital role in the portal of Online Learning.

“Online communities of practice are electronic gatherings that develop, evolve and disperse according to the energy of participants” (Reiser & Dempsey)

In a face-to-face community, a student can interact with his fellow classmates and teachers just about anywhere. Though, this is may not be done in online learning. Nevertheless, it’s not impossible.

When a student takes admission in an online class, he/she becomes a member of that class’s community. This student craves to share his/her views with his/her peers and teachers. This is the most important responsibility for the instructor.  Please, do not just post the assignments and expect students to be happy to submit it. I can hear you say,…”I don’t have just one student.” Right, you are busy with so many classes running but you may setup periodic communication with students through email, chats via Skype, class discussions through webinar etc. Think about this way, if a student is lagging in a brick & mortar classroom, your one-on-one conversation might motivate the student. The same is done in the online classroom. However, just the media is different. You may choose; a personal email, chat, etc.

An online learning should not be just about giving access to the content but also give access to the interaction and communication. Inability to collaborate and communicate with fellow students and teachers might lead to isolation and dropouts.

Final thoughts to consider before you build your learning community

  1. In the beginning of a course, encourage students to post about themselves (family, hobby, work, future goals, etc.) with a small introduction video or picture.
  2. One of my professors sent a personal mail to all the students and asked them to send her a mail, make a phone call or was available in skype for them to interact and make them feel comfortable.
  3. Involve the students for a group project work, a discussion in a webinar and so on.
  4. It might be helpful to ponder; if you were in a brick & mortar classroom, how would you collaborate with your students or pull the students as a group? With the help of technology and the same thoughts, you can help a student to give him/her a sense of community that would motivate to continue his/her education without any fear of being isolated.

Goldsmith (2001) “E-coaching is going to be a huge breakthrough in the way people learn, a huge breakthrough for coaching, a huge breakthrough in the way people get developed”.  “With E-coaching, you’re going to get the opportunity to learn what you need, when you need it, from whom you need it and from the best sources.”

Online instructors, you have a huge responsibility here. You can either make a student isolate and drop out or motivate them and reach their goals. What are you going to do?

References –

Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Goldsmith, M. (2001). E-coaching: The future of learning.


Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part II

In continuation with my previous post, some of the major features to ponder while deciding to get your course work on-line are –

Synchronous learning – This kind of pedagogy is highly appreciated in the platform of on-line education. Incorporate synchronous teaching as much as possible, through webinar, video conferencing, live chat etc. As I recall, one of my professors arranges for one or two webinar, per semester. Synchronous learning makes a student feel at a classroom, of course virtually.  It enables students and teachers to collaborate and learn in real-time.

Motivation – The author of, Rupa Rajagopalan is a well-known blogger in the arena of Instructional Design, In her blog she raised a questionWhat are the challenges with Online Training? 
For which I had commented,

“As an online student, I would like to point out that one of the foremost challenges in any online training program is “Motivation”.

The concept of motivation is a good one abstractly, but extensively it fails in the online training program. Nevertheless, there are some enormous ways to motivate students. The presentation of training program through ‘Multimedia’ itself will lead to reinforcement and positive motivation. The practice of Multimedia designing according to the 12 principles of Mayer will be of huge help during the program.

Walter Deal (2004) (p. 3) suggests, “Students who come to class and are well motivated generally will maintain or improve their level of motivation. However, students who are poorly motivated can benefit through additional attention to build their interest and motivation through teacher intervention”

Ruth Clark in her book (p 209) suggests that “Leverage personal interest to boost motivation”. She says, “Contextualize learning material in ways that relate to learner goals.”

Rupa says – “With online training, the trainer has to make an effort to keep the communication going. If there is a lack of communication, then the online training program is sure to fail.”

My opinion – I have seen myself lose motivation and interest if my professor does not take an interest in the students personally. I have one professor who interacts via mail with every student in the beginning of the semester and gives feedback to every comment we make in the discussion board throughout the semester. This certainly benefits us as we don’t feel isolated.

Rupa says – “The trainer needs to make the learners comfortable because most people are apprehensive about online training. I work hard on my attitude, tone and language to interact well with my learners and I am sure with time I will get better and better at it”

My opinion – Your students will be motivated with this perspective. For a distant student, this definitely helps to further continue with their program. I understand that it is difficult to maintain it but constructive criticism leads to improvement.

Deal, Walter F., III. “Using flash technology for motivation and assessment.” The Technology Teacher May-June 2004

Mayer, R. E. (2009), Multi-media learning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Ruth Clark. (2003). Building Expertise (Second ed.). Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement. ”

I’ll conclude this series in my next blog with another important feature – “Building Virtual Community”

You might also like :

Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part I

‘Seven Principles of Good Practice’ to follow in designing Online Education


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.