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.
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 –
- 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.
- 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.
- Involve the students for a group project work, a discussion in a webinar and so on.
- 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?
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.