Submitted by Jason Snart, Professor of English, College of DuPage
The example provided here addresses OWI Principle 11: “Online writing teachers and their institutions should develop personalized and interpersonal online communities to foster student success.” I use this technique in online and in hybrid freshman composition courses. We use Blackboard Version 9.1.
Explanation of effective practice:
Using the free Logitech software included with my webcam, I record a short video of myself talking to students. I include these kinds of informal videos throughout a term, but the initial (one time) “Welcome” video I find particularly important. In the “Welcome” video, I discuss things like course content, I welcome students to a new semester, and I remind students about due dates—in short, I use video as a medium for being “present” for online students.
Once the video is recorded, I upload it to my YouTube account and then embed the HTML code that YouTube provides into an announcement in the “Announcements” area in the Blackboard LMS. Since “Announcements” is the landing page for all of my courses, the videos are the first thing students see when they log in.
Challenge this practice addresses:
This practice allows me to be more present for my online students so they can see and hear me. Because many teachers and students affectively feel a distance in asynchronous courses particularly, seeing my face and hearing my voice can remind them that I am human, aware of them as people, and generally there for them. In short, this video increases presence awareness in an asynchronous setting. In addition to the course information I provide and the constant reminders to stay on task, I think some students are more engaged when they experience themselves as part of a class community with an instructor they can see. Being visible for online students has helped me to make teaching online a less isolating experience than it otherwise can seem to be for students. Ideally, they feel more connected to me and, thus, responsible to the course. I know that I certainly feel more connected to them, just by virtue of being more obviously present in the class.
How to implement this practice:
Sample Video of Welcome Announcement