Teacher Presence


Extract from Issue#25 of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

All issues of Teaching Tuesdays can be accessed through the folder at this link

Do my students find me helpful and approachable?

Managing Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom

By: Dr Lawrence Ragan and Kimberley Eke

Source: https://www.magnapubs.com/magna-commons/?video=3214

(Access the CSU free subscription to this resource)

In this 58-minute interactive webinar, Ragan and Eke explore reasons for establishing teacher presence and approachability and provide practical examples and resources that you can use.

Reasons for establishing teacher presence – why it matters to online students

  1. Sense of isolation in online students.
  2. Students’ primary link to the subject is the instructor.
  3. Students need to feel that someone is in control of the subject.
  4. Students desire to interact with an expert.

TIP 1: if using web-based apps for communication, choose those that include a small icon of you to keep your image in front of students. Twitter is one of the examples but the advice is to use technologies that are already familiar to you.

Ragan and Eke base their discussion on the first element of the:

Instructor Presence Framework

  1. PERSONA – Establishing your online “personality”. There is a clear comparison with walking into a classroom, so we need to be intentional in deciding how to do this.
  2. INSTRUCTIONAL – The process of “teaching” – guiding, facilitating, directing learning. Most online instructors feel comfortable with establishing this.
  3. SOCIAL – Student-student, student-instructor interactions outside of the content domain. These are elements of the OLM that will be explored in coming months.

TIP 2: Welcome video and weekly topical videos that include information about the lecturer (Answers the question, How do I represent myself as a human being?).

OR: Caricatures of the you that students can click on to hear your voice and energy.

Use the AVAIL mnemonic for Teacher Presence:

A – Active: Regularly participate in class activities.V – Visible: “Leave evidence” of your visibleness.
A – Accessible: Be approachable and responsive to student enquiries – provide opportunities for students to interact with you.
I – Involved: Participate as a member of the learning experience – not all the time, but on a regular basis.
L – Leadership: Conduct “class management and operation” details – manage the event from the start of the class to the end of the class.

General principles for technology use:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Be intentional and selective.
  • Let technologies wash over you like a warm breeze – don’t feel that you have to try them all, but sample them as you feel ready.

Categories of technology to use:

  • Community & Collaboration.
  • Communication & Feedback.
  • Content & Curation.

– for each of these, examples are provided of the type of app you can use. They are idea starters for which you can insert your own favourite apps, or seek help from your Educational Designer (SRS request) for CSU-supported software solutions.

Criteria to help you decide on which applications to use:

  • What is interesting to you? (Conversely, if you don’t like a particular app, don’t use it!)
  • Use something that you’re already using that is familiar to you.
  • How much time will you need to invest? Your time is valuable – where will be the return on your investment?
  • Talk to students about what they would like to do – e.g. they may like to interact on a social networking platform even if you don’t want to.
  • Talk to your colleagues about what techniques they are using.

TIP 3: Use a concept map to help students to keep connected to the content and subject structure – so studying the subject is not an “untethered” experience.

Further considerations:

  • Basic internet safety – don’t be overly familiar with your own information and think about what you are asking students to sign up to if they need to create online accounts.
  • Your online presence is your main consideration here – ultimately it’s about you and not the students, so think carefully about how you involve students.
  • Accessibility – make content as available as possible for all students.

Presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources are available for download from the Magna Commons website if you don’t have time to listen to the seminar.