By Lisa M. Lane
The First Week- Social
- Provide a personal and welcoming introduction to develop a personal presence.
- Design a forum for students to post introductions and share experiences. Responds to each student’s introduction.
- Encourages students to share pictures or other representations (e.g., avatars) of themselves.
- Model discussion response behavior and tone. Uses a conversational tone for responses that is inviting, personal, friendly, and encouraging.
- Use humor sparingly and carefully; use emoticons to express jesting.
- Invite and encourages students to use online office hours and/or to make appointments.
- Adds a social forum (“coffee house”) for non-class related topics.
The First Week- Pedagogical
Create an ice breaker activity related to a course key objective or concept.
Communicate with students at least twice a week (through announcements and/or discussion participation) to maintain a positive rapport.
Determine areas in which students need to improve and notify students.
Challenge the students by asking questions which apply to the readings and communicating high expectations.
The First Week- Technical
- Provide detailed support links and/or instructions on using the technology within the assignment
Provide information to help the students feel comfortable with the technology.
- Assist students with login/access difficulties.
Have you found ways to “make yourself” known to your students: just as you would in a face-to-face environment?
Almost all courses now have built-in a “Getting Acquainted” discussion post as the very first discussion in the course. This is a real opportunity to “tell a story or two about yourself” and to encourage your students to share something more personal about themselves. This can be done by simply asking students to complete a statement, such as, “My favorite movie, or book, or meditation or relaxation is:.” Or asking students to share/ post one of their favorite pictures. Simple statements such as these elicit a wealth of information, so that we “connect” on more levels with each other.
Many instructors also ask the students – in their introductions- to answer course specific questions such as why they are taking the course, what skills or competencies they expect or hope to learn, etc.
Your Virtual presence!
This is a simple reminder to be sure to post a message or announcement in the course site to everyone at least three times a week. In other words, let your students know you are there and interested in how they are doing with their assignments and general progress. Postings are also a great way to link current events and issues to the course content.
The first week in an online class can be a little disorienting. New students must learn to navigate a virtual “classroom,” interact with their peers and professors without actually seeing them face-to-face, and balance their assignments with their everyday lives.