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Creating a Thoughtful Online Teaching Persona

Summer Session Special Series

The second issue in our special CTE newsletter series focuses on creating a thoughtful online teaching persona. This can be a little more difficult in a virtual environment than in a face-to-face course. In order to create a dynamic, present course that fosters a sense of community for instructor and students, it helps to intentionally design and foreground the ways that you will interact with students. How will you, as the instructor, be present to students in your remote course? Read on for some ideas.
Woman talking on video call

Recognize the importance of human connection from afar. In a virtual environment your presence as a teacher is less tangible than in a face-to-face environment. How will you “show up” for your students and guide them through the learning process? Create a plan for frequent, supportive communication to ensure that your presence can be felt.

Organized website

Design, maintain, and utilize a clearly organized course website (e.g., on Collab/Canvas). Your course site is the place where students will “arrive” to class, and it’s important that they can easily find their way around. Think about how the organization of your site communicates your presence.

Man with dog on video call

Choose authenticity over perfection.
If a pet or child is likely to interrupt your lesson at one point or another, consider how you can “curate” the arrival of those special guests depending on your social location and comfort level. Students appreciate knowing that there is a real human being on the other side of the screen and you can leverage those moments as opportunities for connection.

Woman playing guitar on video call

Communicate your personality, within limits. Whether you are recording lessons or teaching live, you can include a few features that are uniquely you, like a signature outfit or favorite knickknack in the background. Carefully consider how what you choose to share might affect students differently.

Make your presence reliable. Let students know how and when they will interact with you, such as how frequently you will provide feedback on discussion boards, hold office hours, and post assignments.
Read more about Creating Instructor Presence
These issues are meant as primers for more comprehensive programming that the CTE is offering throughout the summer. Up next: Creating your and your students' social presence.
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