Faculty Webinar Series Launched
For those who were able to participate in our inaugural FIU Online Faculty Webinar Series, thank you for joining! FIU Online launched the series to explore topics important to our online faculty. February’s webinar featured instructor and online learning expert, Kona Jones, in the session titled, “Creating Instructor Presence in Your Online Course.” If you missed February’s webinar, you can watch the recording to catch up on the discussion or read the highlights below.
Creating Instructor Presence in Your Online Course
Kona shared the moment she realized just how important instructor presence is to a course, “my students were like, yeah, you know, it wasn’t a bad course; it wasn’t a great course. It was just a course.” She reflected that “…in all honesty, I was kind of feeling a little ehh about my class as well.”
Even if you love your courses, she mentioned how sharing often leads to things you might not have thought of and want to try in your courses.
“A robust sense of instructor presence can increase student and faculty satisfaction while reducing any sense of isolation in your course.”
She frames her methods around seven questions she shared with attendees.
Creating a Social Presence
How do you make your students feel welcome?
How do you create and maintain a sense of trust and safety?
Students need to connect to a real person to feel the trust and safety required for making mistakes and taking risks in learning. Kona suggested personalizing introductory materials with some very fun tips like creative course introductions, including “two truths and a lie,” or keeping it relevant to the course topic. Other suggestions were:
- Record a course walk-through with syllabus highlights.
- Create a student survey to find out who your students are. Then use the notes in the gradebook to keep track of preferred names, etc.
- Encourage questions so students don’t rely on google for any help they might need.
Creating a Cognitive Presence
What activities or assignments do you have that are meaningful to the students and get them engaged?
What opportunities do you provide for students to think and reflect on what they’ve learned?
Making assignments meaningful can mean giving students some autonomy in choosing topics or how they will interact with the topic for assessment. Attendees were also asked to consider group or team-based learning (with or without points attached) even for things like creating study groups. Instructors can have students set goals at the beginning of the semester, and then check in on those goals at the midpoint.
Creating a Teaching Presence
How is your course designed to promote learning?
How are you present in your course?
How do you connect with your students?
Some highlights from the webinar included:
- Kona described why she asks for feedback during each week of her course.
- She also found that students like consistency. It helps them get comfortable with how the course will run.
- Show how activities align with course outcomes. It might be clear to you, but it may not be for students.
- Create short videos for those spots in your course where students always face problems.
- Participate in discussions.
- Use Canvas “Conferences” and let students know they can contact you there for an hour each week.
- Message students who have not yet submitted an assignment to remind them of a deadline.
- Communicate with students who are and aren’t doing well.
FIU Online is excited to continue having conversations with faculty through the webinar series.
For a list of future webinars, check out the Faculty Webinar Series page. Don’t forget to RSVP to participate in a session and continue the conversation with your instructional designer and other faculty members. If you don’t see a webinar on the particular topic you or your department would like to learn more about, contact our Project Manager, Christina Schettini (firstname.lastname@example.org), to request a topic.