Instructor turns doorknob and enters classroom. The sound of hardbottom shoes clicking against the composite tile flooring is subtle, yet present, as the instructor makes their way to the front of the classroom. The instructor proceeds to set down their briefcase on the epoxy resin table at the head of the class, snapping open the two clasps containing the contents.
With a quick clearing of the throat, the instructor pans the room, making eye contact with each student. After a minute or so, the instructor smiles and says, “good morning” while taking out a stack of handouts and circulating them around the room to all the eager, outstretched hands.
Can you picture it? Almost hear it?
The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three Interdependent elements – Social, Cognitive and Teaching presence (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000). Leveraging the power of the Teaching Presence element can help instructors to establish and maintain an active online learning community.
Within a face-face classroom setting, students have the benefit of visual and auditory cues that they may not have the benefit of in online learning environments. Think about it…when instructors enter a physical classroom, teaching presence is perceptible regardless if they speak or not.
So how do you create a teaching presence when you are not in that physical space where these nuances are evident?
This face-to-face quasi-natural interaction and connection do not occur organically online. Creating a teaching presence to help establish and maintain an active online learning community takes strategy and planning.
Consider the following strategies when teaching online:
- Create an introduction video – this will give students a sense of your persona, and introduces your role as the course facilitator
- Share your thought processes to reveal reflection and decision making
- Provide ongoing feedback to support the achievement of learning outcomes
- Provide explicit directions and expectations for all course activities
- Be clear about choice and flexibility
- Provide reminders for due dates, homework, readings etc.
- Provide some direct instruction – this could be in a synchronous session, or in a video or an audio recording
Instructors need to consider Teaching Presence when designing their courses, to help establish and maintain an active online learning community, and to provide their learners with evidence of instructor engagement (Kelly, 2014, para. 8).
How will you communicate who you are, and create a Teaching Presence in your online course?
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education model. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.
Kelly, R. (2014, January 7). Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom. Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/creating-a-sense-of-instructor-presence-in-the-online-classroom/