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.


One comment on “Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part III

  1. Priya,
    Great article on effectively engaging the learners in the virtual space. Most of the new learning platform are built to improve the communication among the peers and faculty within the campus and some expose them to peers across the globe

    While we were building our social learning platform –, we looked at 3 mains characters for social learning work well.

    1. Wisdom of the crowds
    a. Be connected to large group (a diverse set of people) not only your friends.
    b. Matching people with similar interest – in other words try to build an interest graph rather than a social graph

    2. Be the facilitator
    a. Faculty needs to be a facilitator and help the learner to assimilate the information
    b. Provide tools of communication & engagement with simulations, social games etc.

    3. Access to information & people
    a. A decade ago, information was consolidated and packaged into books or instructional material like journals, course etc. Not anymore. Today, the students can acquire Information from varied sources. They take a piece, add to it, reframe or rethink and end up with some pattern that symbolizes the meaning
    b. Adapt the content and information to the individual needs.

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