Desire2Learn (D2L) offers instructors several methods for increasing presence in an online class, which is critical to setting a tone of approachability. This online training video will cover how to use discussion boards, classl ists, and multimedia features to establish identity in the early days of an online course.
- [Narrator] Let's be honest, it is really easy to feel anonymous in an online course. You're in a communal experience with people you never meet, including the instructor. That makes trust harder, and it leaves many students disoriented. Well, this clip will give you several strategies for how D2L can establish your presence as an instructor and set the tone for the class. We're taking a high level view here in this clip, but other videos in the course get into the more procedural details. Oh, and since D2L lets each user customize their navigation, the path that you'll take to the various tools may differ from what you see here.
The first D2L tip for an online course is to email students before the course even begins. You can handle this through the class list tool which will be synced to your individual roster. We don't have email functionality in this demo environment, unfortunately, but you'll usually see the command to email students right about here. In the same initial email, I also will occasionally mention things from my user profile page. This page lets you share some personal information which can help to humanize you, and I also encourage students to fill out their own profile features.
Finally, I ask every student to email me a quick response just letting me know they're getting my initial messages. This also gives me a chance to interact with each student individually. I also emphasize a few other course elements in the early days. First, I point out the calendar feature. This helps to make sure that each student is clear on the nature of the class, that even though it's online, we have deadlines, and they'll be communicated here. I also usually upload a quick self-produced video to the content tab and place it prominently so that it's one of the first things that students see.
In this video, I give a lengthier introduction, as well as a tour of D2L's prominent features. This can be a webcam clip or something screen captured, just so long as it lets students hear my voice and even see my face. Speaking of being heard and seen, I also recommend developing some kind of video chatting option. It can be Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, whatever fits your comfort zone. I usually only video chat with one or two students a term, but when I need it, I am very glad it's there.
You can give students access information to your contact info. here in the policies sheet where you cover information like grading and attendance. Even better, you can set up a widget here on the course homepage. Students can't directly access video chat from here, but it's good to point out and keep it prominently in student's minds. Depending on your D2L setup, you may even have a D2L chat features available natively. Finally, in the early weeks of the class, I recommend being all over the discussion boards.
Respond to as many posts as you can, push discussion forward, and talk to your students as individuals. This lets you invest early in relationships that make teaching easier later. All of the strategies I pointed out here, by the way, are covered in step-by-step detail in other clips throughout the course. If you follow these practices, you can make students feel like they aren't taking an online class, they're taking your online class, which helps preserve that useful bond of face-to-face instruction.
- Setting up a user profile
- Managing student introductions
- Setting up discussions to encourage community
- Setting up the course content tab
- Developing course competencies and learning objects
- Using the course calendar and notifications
- Setting up links, widgets, and multimedia resources
- Setting up assignments and a gradebook
- Providing feedback