It can be challenging for teachers to connect with students online. but the recent covid-19 health crisis has made online teaching the current global standard, putting teachers in a tough spot. many experienced teachers confess that building valuable relationships with their students is their biggest obstacle in the virtual classroom. after all, it is this trust that drives communication and deep learning.
Fostering student-faculty connections without face-to-face interaction isn’t easy, but it can be done. it just takes the right tools and some creativity. Fortunately, we have managed to find a number of methods and tools that can help you create a rich online learning environment.
Reading: How to connect with students online
five ways to foster connection with students online
- create informal video content
- organize virtual office hours
- structure time for students to meet and connect outside of class
- involve students in the decision-making process
- relate to real-life problems and offer flexibility
create casual video content
Teaching was already a challenge, but online classes and hybrid learning models present a new set of obstacles for educators. online learning makes it difficult for teachers to read social cues like eye contact, body language, tone of voice. that’s why it’s imperative that they try to increase interaction with students to ensure they remain attentive and engaged.
Creating informal video content, such as class announcements and personalized messages, can humanize the often isolating online experience. These videos don’t have to be long, and they don’t have to be over-produced. in fact, sometimes the more informal the better. By letting their students see who they really are, educators can encourage students to open up and invest in the class.
It can even help teachers address their own challenges during this difficult time, letting students know they’re not alone. Creating that sense of community in a classroom is important when students may not be able to meet in person.
Like regular courses, this informal video content should be accessible and inclusive for all students. Adding closed captions to your pre-recorded class announcements and personal messages ensures they reach a broader audience, including students who may be deaf or hard of hearing.
virtual office hours
When teaching large numbers of students, it’s important to set aside time for interaction outside of class. this rule applies to both face-to-face and online courses. Because teaching online involves a unique set of challenges, it’s important for educators to clearly establish times when they are available to interact with students and answer questions.
Individual sessions with students to answer questions directly can help those students who may feel disconnected from the class. Teachers can also host virtual office hours for small study groups or even the entire class. students can only get so engaged with the content during traditional class time. office hours will enrich your learning experience and establish a sense of camaraderie in the classroom.
Providing live captions for these synchronous office hours sessions will help students follow the discussion, especially if they are hard of hearing or in a room with a lot of background noise. For educators using Zoom, Rev’s Live Captions for Zoom Meetings and Webinars is a fast and accurate solution for automatically captioning synchronous video conferencing events. In addition, transcripts of virtual office hours sessions can help students as a study aid and ensure they don’t miss any of the discussion.
It can also be good to establish an online communication method where students can post their questions, opinions or ideas. this way they can cover more material outside of an educator’s limited office hours. If educators go down this path, checking the forum and interacting with students regularly is crucial.
structure time for students to build personal connections outside of class
The face-to-face class allows students to get closer and even build friendships based on common interests outside of schoolwork. But the physical distance inherent in online classes can get in the way of meaningful communication between students. That’s why teachers need to help students structure time with their peers not only to discuss coursework, but also to build personal connections. prompts for discussion and personal reflection can help start conversations.
involve students in the decision-making process
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One of the best ways to find out what students need is to simply ask them and then offer them options. including them in the decision-making process will demonstrate that educators value their opinions and are making a concerted effort to solicit student participation.
Survey solutions like google forms or surveymonkey, or even discussion forums within a learning management system (lms), can help instructors collect feedback. when students can help lead the conversation, they often become more engaged in the learning process. people are generally better contributors to projects when they have a stake in them.
Teachers can also use the technology to present class-related pop quizzes or quizzes. even if the test results don’t count towards the final grade, the effort of having to take the test will help mark a certain part of the course. In addition, it will inform the teacher about what information is more easily retained by the students.
relate to real life problems and offer flexibility
Teaching online courses requires a lot of work. In trying to maintain a certain standard, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact that students are people who face the same occasional personal problems as anyone else. your goal is to personalize your lessons and adapt your methods to make the class more useful to your students.
Especially at a time when educators, students, and their families are dealing with a pandemic in different ways, there will be those who fall behind in their work. Health, money, and family problems can affect everyone. By talking openly and actively seeking a solution, instructors can build lasting connections with their students.
why connecting with students online is vital
Online teaching is likely to remain popular as the covid-19 pandemic continues to sow uncertainty in schools around the world. however, whether through a screen or face-to-face, a true sense of connection between teacher and students is vital. these connections do not happen accidentally, it requires effort. But with the right tools and the right attitude, instructors can engage with their students, create lasting connections, and enrich the learning process.