I read an article today (http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/how-to-make-your-online-students-feel-connected/)in Faculty Focus that “some organizations are projecting that by 2020 students will take up to 60 percent of their courses online” (not sure their source). The article goes on to talk about the human experience, etc. and how Drexel University does things like contact the students by phone to welcome them, etc. Unless they go further than that, it looks to me like all the are doing is adding fluff and trying to protect their investment.
A call to welcome me is nice, but what I want from an online course and what I hope to give would be a continual presence. Students sometimes need help and to know their instructor is accessible. We want to be able to virtually raise our hand and know the instructor will call on us. But how can s/he do that with 25 students in perhaps as many as four courses? That’s 100 individuals wanting the instructor’s attention!
One way the instructor can show presence in the classroom is by being on the discussion boards and chime in on the conversations. They also can answer emails quickly during working hours. What about virtual office hours with video conferencing? Would that be a way to balance students with time? If there were scheduled times for students to be able to meet, could students also help each other? Would it make the experience more productive and enjoyable for the instructor and the students? Anyone have any experience in this? It’s new to me.