Student-instructor relationships matter in community college classes — regardless of whether a course is taught on-campus or online. But when you teach online, you need to be more intentional about crafting your online presence to convey yourself as a real person who cares about your students’ learning.
Data shared by the Community College Research Center shows there are some concerning gaps between the instructor-student relationships in face-to-face and online classes. Research shows that community college students feel their relationships with instructors in their face-to-face courses are more “personal,” “immediate,” “detailed,” and “solid” when compared with their relationships with their online instructors. When learning online, students report feeling the need to teach themselves. One student in a large research study shared, “It just seems … when you do it online, if you need help, your teacher is basically not there.”
We know these student takeaways are not ok. We know instructor-student relationships are the foundation of meaningful, supportive community college learning experiences — regardless of a course’s modality. And to support faculty, @ONE is now offering a online professional development course, Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning, to introduce faculty to the relevant research about instructor presence, social presence, and culturally responsive teaching; experience a humanized online class through the lens of a student; experiment with creating micro-videos; see examples of how other faculty are applying humanizing practices in their online classes; and work through the nerves we all feel when speaking to a webcam (it really does get easier!).
Recently, I sat down with Tracy Schaelen, from Southwestern College, to explore her views about humanizing online teaching and learning. As always, Tracy provided invaluable insights about why the instructor-student relationship is so important for supporting the needs of our students, especially those from underserved populations. In the 17-minute video embedded below, Tracy also provides us with a tour of some of her own humanizing practices, which we hope will inspire you to check @ONE’s course catalog and register for the next offering of Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning. Tracy will be one of the facilitators of this new course!