Learn How to Become Visible and easy to reach in a Virtual Classroom
Do you feel adequately prepared to teach as an online instructor? Are you easily easy to reach and obtainable for your learners? Do learners perceive you as being visible and uniquely identifiable as their instructor?
One of the challenges higher education has faced recently is providing quality education via a virtual classroom ecosystem, especially for classes not typically stated to be taught remotely. already for experienced online instructors, there are inherent challenges that are based upon the character of working in this manner and will always be present, requiring dedication and time to address. One of the most pressing challenges is becoming a real person to learners, someone who is visible and obtainable to address their needs, and more importantly, easy to reach when needed to answer their concerns.
A virtual classroom closest changes the dynamics of teaching, as to how instructors interact with learners. Instead of visual, verbal, and vocal cues, now interactions are based chiefly upon written text. There are exceptions to this rule and include the occasional use of web meetings as a supplemental method of engaging with learners. One of the challenges for reliance on written communication is the one-sided character of sending messages and creating classroom posts. There is only a perceived tone and if the formatting is less than academically accurate or precise, the message and its meaning will be interrupted.
Within an online class, learners are watching for clues or indicators that their instructor is actively present, not just someone who is remotely working and sometimes checking into class. The greater they perceive the instructor is present, the more likely they will be motivated to also be present and engaged in class. Creating a highly visible presence requires skillful practice, implemented as part of an current set of teaching strategies.
Welcome to the “Always Open” Classroom
The assistance of a virtual classroom is the seemingly unlimited access to it, along with the course resources and materials. This “always open” mentality changes the perception as to what learners expect of their instructors as to when they should be obtainable. I’m finding response time has a meaningful impact on how learners view my involvement in the class, and shapes how they respond in turn to my feedback.
In other words, if I am highly responsive and obtainable, learners are more likely to include with me when I send messages or post feedback. The challenge for me is learning when to be present and when to give myself a break or some downtime away from the classroom. Just because the classroom is “always open” does not average I, or any online instructor, need to be “always on” and present at all times.
How to Become Visible and easy to reach in a Virtual Classroom
To be noticed in a virtual classroom is the first step in being seen. in addition learners who expect an instructor to be highly visible and easy to reach expect high quality interactions, and someone who is highly engaged, responsive, and frequently obtainable to assist them. When I thought about sharing my strategies for teaching in a virtual classroom, I took into consideration the fact instructors will have varying degrees of experience working in this ecosystem. However, there are basics which can be implemented by anyone to create an online presence that is perceived as visible and freely easy to reach to learners.
Strategy One: Personalize the Learning Experience
This is an aspect of online teaching I’m always aware of and it has to do with the development of ways in which I can humanize the learning experience for learners. One area in which I’ve grown is with my introduction. I used to proportion specialized information only but over time it has evolved and now I also include casual information that can help show me to be a real person. For example, I talk about favorite television shows and movies, and I’ve also included a photo of my office buddy, which happens to be a pet who comes into my office at times. I nevertheless hesitate to proportion too much personal information about my family or spouse, believing there is a specialized relationship needed to be maintained.
What I recommend to anyone who is trying to become a “real” person to their learners is to proportion what you believe will help make connections with them, without sharing anything too personal. The idea is to connect with and inspire your learners, and find a way to bridge the gap between a begin again and casual conversation. You could also proportion a LinkedIn profile link as that is specialized in character and allows learners to get to know more about your background, provided you’ve kept it up-to-date.
Strategy Two: Teach by Weekly Course Messages
For those instructors who teach in traditional online classes, there is typically a method of posting course announcements and/or weekly overviews. With my online university, I have an ability to use a weekly course announcement as a teaching tool. For example, I will record a video and the video is a narration of me reviewing a PowerPoint presentation I have already developed. The presentation provides an overview of the week ahead, including stated readings, course concepts, an in-thoroughness examination of specific topics, and an exploration of the required learning activities. I will also include motivational sayings and other basic items to help prepare learners.
When I’ve completed feedback, I will also post a course announcement, as a recorded video, and I often use this as a teaching tool. I may include supplemental resources, along with additional tips, strategies, and suggestions. If you have an ability to transform long written lectures into some form of interactive video, with or without a PowerPoint presentation, I recommend you try it as learners get the experience of being in class and a feeling of personalized instruction. This also relates to the first strategy about personalizing the learning experience. If there is any method obtainable for you to add your instruction to the course, be it by the use of messages or something else, you’ll find this allows you to proportion your subject matter skill and knowledge.
Strategy Three: Plan an Approach for Class Participation
Do you think ahead about how you will participate in your class discussions? A weekly class discussion can be your opportunity to help determine how your learners are working with and grasping the course topics, along with being able to apply what they have learned. While the discussion responses tend to be similar in scope, you nevertheless can help prompt them to continue to learn by asking questions in a planned manner, such as Socratic questioning techniques.
When I post a reply to a learner, I start by acknowledging something they’ve said within their response, then I build upon it by adding my own insight and supplemental resources, and conclude with a follow-up question. As to a planned strategy, consider starting early in the week and post a reply to every learner at the minimum once. This will help encourage learners to become actively engaged throughout the week. in any case your strategy is, if you have a plan it will help you become better prepared to be substantively engaged.
Strategy Four: Develop a Plan for Office Hours
Do you have multiple methods of contact obtainable for your learners? For most online schools, the traditional method of contact is by classroom messaging or email. Now web tools such as speed are obtainable and can be used for virtual class meetings. A challenge for adjunct online instructors is calculating how to balance availability with other complete-time responsibilities. My recommendation is to offer office hours during a time when you know or anticipate you will be online working and obtainable to return messages or accept calls.
If you want to continue to follow the first strategy and personalize the learning experience, I recommend you offer availability by phone. I do this to prevent long emails back and forth, which can end up frustrating both you and the learner if the message is not understood. More importantly, I find this presents me with an opportunity to continue to teach the course concepts in a one-on-one manner, which can further bridge the distance learning gap. I remember being an online learner and how it felt when I had to wait for a reply and the reply received did not fully address my question. If I had an ability to call my instructor, I would have done so. I know my learners greatly appreciate this additional time taken on my part. Perhaps you will consider it in addition.
Manage Your Disposition at All Times
Becoming visible and easily easy to reach for learners does average you will have more direct interactions. The assistance of increased availability is helping your learners when they request it, while demonstrating your care and concern for their developmental well-being. With increased communication comes an ability to also get to know your learners better. This also increases the possibility of conflict between you and your learners, especially if they are contacting you by phone and there isn’t a direct record of what was stated.
It will be up to you as to how you address each situation. For example, if a learner does not communicate appropriately, you can then restrict their communication to messaging or email only. I also recommend that with every phone call received or you begin, you send a quick follow-up message or email to serve as a record. This will provide your school with a record of the conversation. What you must decide ahead of time, is you will continue a positive frame of mind no matter how challenged you might feel by a learner. If at any time you believe a learner has not maintained proper communication, be it their tone or something else, you can advise them you will no longer continue the conversation and remind them of the Code of Conduct.
As the instructor, you must always try your best to keep calm and emotionally restrained when interacting with your learners. Your disposition helps to reinforce a perception you are interested in being an active part of the class. Visibility can take many forms and includes direct interactions with your learners, whether by discussions, messages, emails, or phone calls. The possible impact you can have on the progress and development of your learners increases considerably when you become easily easy to reach and use each opportunity presented as a time for teaching and learning. in any case methods you use to become highly visible, make a conscious choice to be involved in your virtual classroom for the assistance of your learners, not just to make an turn up for the sake of being present.