The teacher is the heart of creating a community in an online course. Frequent, warm, substantive communication between instructor and student is a big part of creating this community. Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Create a video to introduce yourself to your online students, something they can watch during the first week of the semester. Keep the introduction focused on you as a person (not the course).
- Grade assignments within one week, or before the next assignment is due.
- Check for messages from your students regularly, and respond to them regularly, too (daily if possible). Be clear in the syllabus what your students can expect. Tell them if there are days you won't be checking messages (like weekends).
- Include brief videos to introduce each module, so your students get a sense of your voice and personality.
- Create learning experiences that facilitate interaction between students and between students and teachers.
- Post on discussions consistently and regularly (two times a week). Try to foster discussion among students. Where possible, divide discussion boards into smaller groups.
- Include a "get to know you" discussion board at the start of class.
Here are some additional resources to help you create a community in an online course:
- Educause - 8 lessons learned from teaching online
- Strategies for providing feedback in online courses
- Speaking to students with audio feedback
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