When online courses were first offered, there was a lot of concern that faculty would be replaced by the technology. But instead, we continue to find that the instructor plays just as important a role in the online environment as she or he does in the classroom.
One of the challenges though is how the instructor creates and maintains a sense of presence in the online course. In the classroom, the instructor’s physical presence is taken as a given. A smile, laugh, raised eyebrow or look of confusion provides an opportunity for the instructor to engage and adapt the instructional approach as needed. In the online environment this isn’t available. This doesn’t however mean that creating a presence is not possible. In his article, Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom on the Faculty Focus website, Rob Kelly divides this presence into 3 categories:
When considering your own instructor presence, there are strategies you can implement in both the course design process and when the course goes live that don’t require you to be available 24×7. Here are a few examples.
During the course design and development process:
Once the course goes live:
While technology in and by itself does not create presence or better learning for that matter, when used right it can facilitate learning especially in an online environment. Here’s a brief article which includes some ideas used by other faculty:
Technology that improves instructor presence in Online Courses (From the Online Learning Consortium)