Below is my contribution to a discussion forum on the topic of ‘Instructor Presence’.
“It has been said that instructor presence is one on the most important factors that lead to a well-established online community. One way to provide that much needed support for you students is to log on frequently and post weekly reminders, updates or information that might be helpful as they proceed through the course.
What are some other ways to provide and increase instructor presence? Share a unique opportunity that you have found in your research or in your experience. It might be a resource or a tool, a technique, or a flair that you have made all your own.”
Unlike f2f teaching that depends on physical presence and teacher immediacy, teaching presence in online education depends on course design and organization, facilitation of online discourse, and well-focused direct instruction.
In regards to the area of ‘facilitating online discourse’, establishing a netiquette policy at the beginning of the course would help to establish teaching presence while helping students to understand expectations for online discourse.
Currently in our f2f classes we have the participants work together on the first morning to establish the ‘classroom rules’ for the week. The list is then posted in the classroom for everyone to view during the week. Of course, we have a few suggestions that we like to ensure are covered in the rules, so we will guide the participants if needed. This exercise has worked well to have students monitoring their own behavior and the behavior of others in the class.
I feel this f2f exercise is one that can be easily changed to adapt to the online environment. Having the netiquette policy available and included in the course information with the option for participants to post additional suggestions for the netiquette policy for the course is one way that I can see to facilitate online discourse.
I am providing a link to a video by Dr Mark Kassel titled ‘Teaching Presence in Online Learning”. In the video he provides many great ideas for teaching presence that have already been listed by some of you (announcements, emails, weekly appearances, using variety, being creative, etc). However he also stated that “too much teaching presence can decrease interaction”. This statement has caused me to ponder and think about what exactly is ‘too much teaching presence’? Will it be different for each course or group? How easy will it be to identify? What is the best way to address the situation if I should encounter it?
Well, enjoy the video if you have a few minutes and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and ideas on the subject of ‘too much teaching presence’.