Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Developing Philosophy for Maximizing Human Presence in Online Learning Environments

Establishing a human presence in online courses is imperative. Pairing professor content expertise and knowledge with the benefits of online learning environments give faculty the opportunity to  provide a unique virtual classroom experience. Fortunately, faculty don’t need a degree in experience architecture to be successful, only a guiding philosophy and some thoughtful planning. 

As part of my ongoing effort to establish a human presence in my online learning environments, I have begun creating short videos. These particular videos aren’t meant to be particularly informative, although they do contain information. All the information in the videos is also available in the online course site and/or in the text. The goal of the videos is to give a ‘face’ to the instruction with the hope that students will not feel so isolated from the course.

A few principles & practices of these videos:
  • Like a class session, the videos aren’t meant to be perfect. I don’t worry if I make an error; I just correct it and then continue.
  • I don’t worry about “looking silly.” I just go with it and be myself. My thinking, in that way my video self will match my online self. Again, my goal is to be human not to be perfect. Being perfect would take too long. Much too long.
  • Being human doesn’t mean being sloppy. I use the YouTube enhancements to clean up errors and maximize quality. Also, I consider things like lighting and background.
  • The videos are not meant to be permanent. I make them quickly and delete when no longer needed.
  • I post the links in the course site & host the videos on my YouTube channel, LuckenLCC

A few sample videos:

A few principles & practices of developing a human presence in online learning environments:
  • Products, such as faculty made videos, used to establish the human presence in an online environment do not need to be perfect.  Example.
  • Human presence means more than putting a face to the instructor. Linking the students together and linking students to campus resources, such as writing centers or student success centers, are excellent ways to establish 'humanity' online.
  • Technology tools are not a replacement for the personal connection. Use tools in a way that generates interaction, not simply presents and manages content. (Examples: Polleverywhere, twitter, Facebook)
  • Online environments have advantages face to face environments don’t. Make use of those advantages. (Example: Prezi & Google Docs & Hangout)
  • Students have digital literacy. Give them opportunities to use and improve it.
I continue to work on this philosophy of developing a human presence in online environments.