16 Instructor-to-Student

Students need to feel your presence online. Even though you may never physically meet your students, your presence should be felt by your students throughout the course. The students need to see the person behind their course; their instructor needs to be made visible—made real—in a way that is unnecessary in a traditional face-to-face classroom.  One of the biggest obstacles of online learning is the isolation of the learner. To discourage these feelings from taking root, we need to come up with a comprehensive plan to be present in our learning environment and to ensure that we are available for our students when they need us. 

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Read Rob Kelly’s short article in Faculty Focus on instructor presence. 

Instructor-to-student engagement can be best summarized using the term instructor presence. Being present as an instructor means more than just showing up. It means working as a course guide, a facilitator who pushes the students to deepen their learning and engage with the core questions of the course. 

Instructor-to-Student Strategies

Here are some suggestions for how to foster instructor-to-student engagement as you develop your course plan:

  • Create an introductory video to frame the course where you introduce themselves and show your face
  • Plan to use a profile picture and actively respond to discussion boards
  • Draft weekly announcements, reminder emails or updates to deliver at regular intervals throughout the course
  • Find opportunities to draw on your personal experience and expertise
  • Plan to pop into breakout rooms to check on group work
  • Develop questions to gauge comprehension and engagement with the material
  • Plan opportunities to solicit student feedback on your performance
  • Set aside time for office hours
  • Provide clear methods of how students should communicate with you


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