If you’re assigned a new online class, would you like to meet these students individually? Are you able to see your students as more than a group of anonymous names?
In a traditional college class, teachers are likely to have a fairly predictable group of students who can be visually assessed, although that visual perception may not always be accurate. This is different with an online student class, as there can be a greater variety of backgrounds and experiences, which is why the traditional definition of a college student is no longer applicable. For this reason, the phrase “non-traditional students” has been used to describe online students as it represents a group of students who have different needs than traditional college students. It is essential for online teachers to learn more about their students during the course if they want to help them and support their progress.
Within an online classroom, it is possible to have students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and intellectual disabilities, as well as other forms of physical and mental challenges. There is a saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and with online students there are no visible covers to judge. Even the phrases used to describe learning in a technology-enabled environment are not very encouraging. For example, “online learning” sounds mechanical and “distance learning” sounds far away. But at the heart of teaching in any setting, especially in the online classroom, is the relationship between teacher and student. If this relationship can be established even during a limited classroom time, it will help improve student success and retention.
Help online students discover their identity
First, an online teacher can view their students as a single type since they all appear the same when represented by a printed name or number. On some learning management system platforms, students and teachers can now upload and attach a photo to their profile to personalize posts in class. From the students’ point of view, there are still some who are reluctant to give out personal information, some who give too many details, and others who want to hide behind their anonymity. When a student believes they are anonymous, they are more likely to express their thoughts freely and seemingly without consequences. In my experience, some students have even felt empowered by their sense of freedom and have spoken unfiltered to other students and their teachers.
Behind every name listed in the classroom is someone who wants to achieve a goal but may not be able to express themselves effectively, especially if they have identity issues. An identity develops as a result of its internalized self-beliefs, which have been maintained over time and do not change easily or quickly. When students participate in their classes, these earlier problems and challenges related to their identity still exist, including a negative self-image. A trainer can help them discover their authentic selves through the use of supportive communication, interactions and feedback.
How to overcome anonymity
Students cannot be forced to interact with their teachers beyond what is required of them, such as B. Participation in the discussion forum. However, by developing a strong working relationship, it may be possible to gain their cooperation. Sometimes a student’s reluctance is the result of their perceptions or previous negative experiences, and this requires extra effort on their teacher’s part to change that mindset. Students can either be lured out of anonymity or retreat further into their shells.
There are steps you can take to get to know your students and nurture their online personality development. For example, they can use different options for posting their introduction, including using a recorded voice or a visual introduction. As their teacher, you cannot control how students respond to you, but you can make an effort to work with them and get to know them.
Why online relationships matter
The number one reason relationships are important is that you must work with students to help them succeed. A positive relationship with students helps keep the online environment from becoming mechanical as it humanizes the learning experience. You become “real” to the students, and they in turn become “real” to you. At the base of the word relationship is the word affect and while this cannot be forced, you have the ability to encourage it.
For example, you can personalize student feedback instead of just using canned comments. You may never meet your students, but you can still work with them and offer your support. Be sure to pay close attention to your communications and do your best to always help them. Every class is made up of students who depend on you, and this is a reminder that there is much more to teaching than managing the classroom.
Develop meaningful relationships
If you ask students to post an introduction at the beginning of the lesson, it’s an ideal ice-breaking activity, one that allows you to guide them with what you want them to know. While fun facts are entertaining, consider the value of what you’re asking of them. The goal is to learn something about them that will enable you to understand their developmental needs.
Besides the introduction, you can also offer multiple sources of availability, such as: B. Using e-mail and instant messaging to establish an open dialogue with them. Check your emails as often as possible to reduce student frustration and anxiety. Instant messaging can be used to hold office hours every week. This creates the impression that you are approachable and approachable and helps create an open connection with them.
Any interactions you develop with students can further affect your relationship with them. If you can relate to your students, you are more likely to be seen as approachable. If you are proactive instead of reacting to circumstances, they will discover that you have emotional intelligence. It is up to you as the educator to make initial and ongoing attempts to build meaningful relationships. While superficial responses to students’ questions and contributions to discussions may seem appropriate, the ultimate goal is to develop engaging communication to get students to work with you.
Become visible to students
When you develop a strong virtual presence, students will know that you are engaged in class. It is similar to having a teacher present in a traditional classroom; The more the instructor is seen, the more comfortable the students feel. You can’t manage an online course remotely, and with your presence you can start to bridge that distance gap. Use the discussion board to take time to engage students in conversation, and be sure to follow up with them when they respond. It is an effective practice to have all students respond to each required discussion question at least once, as this shows students that you appreciate their efforts and contributions. With a large class size, it can be difficult to send an answer to every student, and if that’s the case, try to rotate your answers so that all students eventually get an answer from you.
Trust is also an important topic within online courses and something that is difficult to develop in a virtual environment. As students interact with you, they begin to gauge your credibility. They will likely learn to trust you when they believe what you tell them and when you are both firm and fair in addressing their problems and desires. Getting to know your students takes effort and time beyond managing the classroom and fulfilling your required facilitation duties. However, the result is that time together is enjoyable for everyone as students feel connected to the class, distance is minimized and students are fully engaged in the learning process.
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