5 Research-Backed Tips to Improve Your Online Presence

In the 1960s — long before online learning came along — economist Michael G. Moore considered how to help rural farmers in East Africa develop business skills. He envisions teaching individual lessons to help them learn modern farming techniques or start a community-based credit union. But there was a major hurdle: the farmers he wanted to teach lived in remote villages with bad roads and no telephones. The idea is not scalable.

So Moore came up with an innovative solution: Realizing that radio was relatively cheap and ubiquitous, he developed courses that could be broadcast by local radio stations. But he soon realized that this was not the same as giving lectures to students. He can no longer talk informally with farmers, answer their pressing questions, or walk around the farm with them looking for ways to increase productivity. Remote learning felt so less personal and inefficient for Moore—at least initially—that he devoted his career to understanding how to make it more human.

“In all forms of distance learning, the ability to humanize the relationship with distance learners is important,” Moore wrote in Distance Education: A Systematic View of Online Learning, echoing the conclusions of other visionaries in the field, such as Khan Academy founder Salman Khan While teachers new to teaching online may focus on delivering content — a smart first step given the sudden shift caused by the pandemic — it’s also important to be familiar with your tech tools, so you can connect with students, build trust, organize your virtual easy-to-use classroom, and ensure your technology serves a human-centric purpose.

By doing this, you can improve a key aspect of your virtual classroom: your classroom image. Moore wrote in a 1997 article: “With separation, psychological and communicative spaces must be bridged.” Bridging the gap requires more than a compelling presentation style. Some changes to your method may be unexpected.

  1. Go beyond presentations

The sudden shift to online learning in the spring has brought greater focus to the need to build strong bonds with students. This is difficult in an online environment.

In brick-and-mortar classrooms, teachers can rely on nonverbal communication methods such as facial expressions and intonation to “help facilitate student learning,” Samford University professor Lisa Gurley explained in a 2018 study. Teaching in a blended and online learning environment is very different from teaching in an in-person classroom, Gurley said.

According to researchers Kathleen Sheridan and Melissa Kelly of National Louis University in Chicago, this may be because students in online environments perceive classroom presence more broadly. In their study of online classrooms, they found that students perceive the presence of the classroom through all interactions with teachers—from emails to announcements and assignments, to more subtle contextual cues like how the lessons self-organize. The digital tools you use become an extension of your lessons, in other words, they blur the lines between your physical and virtual humans.

“While students generally place a high value on communication and teacher responsiveness, they do not place as much value on simultaneous or face-to-face communication,” Sheridan and Kelly write, adding that “being able to see teachers or be consistent with some of the other indicators in the study Compared, the ratings I heard were surprisingly low.”

  1. It’s more than just facetime

Your existence as a teacher doesn’t begin in the classroom, it begins early when you plan the flow and sequence of lessons for your upcoming lessons. “We know from research that effective online learning is the result of careful design and planning,” wrote Charles Hodges, a professor of instructional technology at Georgia Southern University, and colleagues.

“The hassle of finding files, links, or browser tabs increases your stress level, and students feel and reflect that. Close all programs you don’t use and print out your agenda so you don’t have to frantically search on your screen,” advises Annie O’Shaughnessy, a teacher at Vermont Community College.

Before arriving in the classroom, practice for a class until you feel more comfortable, such as the logistics of switching between windows or dynamically changing tool settings when the situation calls for it.

  1. Signal Presence Through Clarity And Organization

In a 2015 analysis of nearly 50 teacher clarity studies, researchers found that “greater clarity is associated with higher levels of student learning.” Clarity is not limited to clear interpretations of ideas: researchers distinguish between content clarity Sexuality – “My teacher was clear in presenting the content” – and process clarity – “My teacher communicated clear expectations for the task.”

However, communication in distance learning is more prone to problems, especially as classrooms become increasingly asynchronous and mediated through learning management systems (LMS), online documents, emails, and other forms of digital communication.

It’s easy to forget that an online classroom needs to be just as navigable and easy to understand as a real classroom—and your online teaching is often conveyed not through body language and tone of voice, but the organization and clarity of a virtual classroom. For example, a strong online teaching presence might mean taking the time to set up your LMS so that there is a central hub for collecting resources – students don’t get lost too often – or guiding students through common tasks how to lead, how to lead and were to lead to submit assignments, Where to ask questions and how to use your chosen suite of technology tools.

  1. Receive student feedback – and respond

Your online teaching status will not be fully created – work is still in progress. In a 2019 study, researchers found that successful online teachers often solicit feedback from students “to determine what’s working and what’s not.”

“An important factor in developing an award-winning curriculum is the way teachers collect data about the curriculum or engage with existing assessment data, thinking about how the curriculum can be improved and making improvements,” explains the study’s authors.

If you want to improve your online teaching presence, you should communicate to students that their opinions matter. After surveying the literature, here are six questions we recommend that you ask your students:

  • On a scale from 1 to 5, how comfortable do you feel using technology in our virtual classroom?
  • Have you encountered any technical issues, such as not being able to hear me, or not being able to connect to the internet? 
  • Are my lessons well-organized and my assignments clear?
  • Can you easily find what you need?⁣
  • Do you feel like your voice is heard?
  • What can I do to improve our online classroom?
  1. Focus On Surfacing Connections And Building Relationships

“To offset the isolating effects of an online class, teachers can strive to communicate more regularly and more informally with students,” writes Jason Dockter, a professor of English at Lincoln Land Community College, in a 2016 study. The point here is not to solve academic problems, but to show children that “the teacher is interested in and committed to each student.”

There are many ways to create a sense of connection in your online classroom. John Thomas, an elementary school teacher in New Hampshire, begins each day with an informal morning meeting. While this can be done synchronously – if all students are participating at the same time – Thomas uses the Seesaw digital app to record and share a video greeting and students can respond in their own time.

“Every day in the classroom, when students walk into the classroom, we notice little details—we keep an eye on the pulse of the learning community,” Thomas explained. “But from a distance, the real performance of the students is not easy.”

Simple but effective strategies – like greeting students at the door; checking in with roses and thorns; or asking students to say thank you, apologize, or say “aha!” Giving – Can make students feel alienated or welcome in your virtual classroom.

Teachers exist to connect with students: if they know you, they’re more likely to trust you and feel like you’re there for them. University of Cincinnati professor Sarah Schroeder said it’s important for teachers to remember that some students may be struggling academically and emotionally during the pandemic. That can be isolated.

“A common concern is feeling disconnected when learning online. We don’t want learners to feel like they’re using a computer. They’re interacting with each other. With you. The content they have. ,” Schroeder wrote.

About the article

The sudden shift to online learning in the spring has brought greater focus to the need to build strong bonds with students. This is difficult in an online environment. In this article, we’ve discussed 5 research-backed tips to improve your online presence.

Bill westermen

Digital Entrepreneur, Website Builder, SEO Consultant and Professional. I have 12 years experience in Digital Marketing, And this is the future of Business

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