By Judith Dutill, Instructional Design Technologist
In her 2010 performance, The Artist is Present, Marina Abramović demonstrates the power of human presence. During her performance, Abramović sat silently in a chair in the Museum of Modern Art. Visitors were invited to sit across from her, make eye contact with her, and simply share in the same space. After the exhibition, visitors reported on the affecting nature of this experience, often describing it as unforgettable. Despite the surrounding crowd, the sense of immediacy created by the act of sitting together led visitors to feel they had shared an intimate moment with the artist. Abramović, herself, said that the show changed her life forever.
Learning in the classroom happens because you are there to facilitate interaction, collaboration, activity, and even play. Your presence in the classroom transforms the student learning experience; the online classroom is no exception.
Unfortunately, our online students largely miss out on their instructors’ presence. This is a problem; literature shows that lack of instructor presence can have negative consequences for the student.
We can solve this problem by becoming more present in our online courses. How do we get started? Instructor presence relies on three elements: teaching presence, instructor immediacy, and social presence.
- Establish teaching presence
- Use a consistent organizational structure
- When things are out of the norm, keep students informed in announcements and the weekly overview
- Facilitate the use of course materials with clear and detailed instructions
- Provide direct instruction
- Summarize weekly discussions
- Create videos (e.g. course overview and weekly overviews)
- Use microlectures
- Create unique lessons for your students
- Embed instructions on how to submit assignments, access grades, and read feedback
- Employ instructor immediacy
- Use humor
- Promptly respond to students’ questions and concerns
- Address students by name
- Participate in discussion boards and model expected communication
- Encourage students to participate in discussion and to share personal stories
- Commend exceptional participation or contributions to classroom discussion
- Establish social presence
- Incorporate your personal interests and experiences into your teaching
- Model open and respectful communication
- Create a welcome video
Try some of these or all of these and if you need assistance, let the Faculty Support Center staff know. Whatever you do, remember this: Be present for your students. Nothing replaces you in the classroom, even online.
What do you do to establish your presence in the online classroom? Tell us about it in the comments section!
- Strategies for Virtual Learning Environments: Focusing on Teaching Presence and Teaching Immediacy
- Teacher Presence: Using Introductory Videos in Online and Hybrid Courses
Akers, M., Dupre, J., Chermayeff, M., Abramović, M., In Shepherd, E. D., Halpern, N., HBO Documentary Films, Music Box Films. (2012). Marina Abramović: The artist is present.
Olubukola Afolabi, R. (2016). Emphasizing instructor presence in digital learning environments. In S. D’Agustino (Ed.), Creating teacher immediacy in online learning environments (pp. 37-54). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2013). Lessons from the virtual classroom: The realities of online teaching (2). Somerset, US: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com