Facilitating Student Engagement Online
As you designed and developed your course, you had the opportunity to create areas and activities where students would be interacting with each other, or with you directly. In the online environment, you will find that your students come to class with a variety of different skills and comfort levels regarding interacting online.
In the early portions of your course, you may have to be more active within the discussion forums, and in responding to student questions, however, as the course progresses, it is likely that you will find yourself moving from a more active instructor to the role of facilitator.
Helpful ways to facilitate positive student interactions include:
- Modeling how you want students to use the discussion forums, social media, or other tools within the course.
- Providing specific feedback early in the course.
- Encouraging students to work constructively with each other. It is useful to instruct students to post general course questions in a public discussion forum. This will save you time, so you will not have to answer the same question through multiple emails and offer the opportunity for your students to help each other.
- Be attentive to multiculturalism and other forms of diversity in your interactions, as well as when posting questions and responses. These may include not only race and ethnicity, but also age, religion, disability, and politics.