Reflections on Humanizing Online Learning by Melanie Cross

In just two weeks I joined & completed part one of an online course designed to help me humanize an online learning experience for others. This online course modeled how to build an online course where students were connected to one another through technology & spotlighted many different tools. The first concept we explored was 'instructor presence'. There is research to support the idea that students want to know their instructor. My experience as a student & as a faculty reinforce the idea that students do want to know their instructor. Currently, I am teaching my very first 100% online course & I have wanted to reach out to the students, but did not know how (?) This course provided lots of ideas about & different ways I can reach out to my students.

In this course I made two videos. The first video was a self-introduction. We learned how to create voice threads, which sting together homemade videos into a conversation. This is just one idea that could create an environment where the instructor is not only present, but also engaged. One of my take-away was our instructor’s introduction video, it was shot out in the snow at Lake Tahoe. An introduction from the instructor as she lived her life certainly lets students know she is a real person (not a robot) with a life. There were suggestions and samples for an introductory video. The idea of letting students know when they could expect a call back (24hours) & letting them know the instructor might be tied up with groceries, kids-etc. was a fantastic way to let students know we are real people -too.

We also explored the concept of empathy. Students need empathy - especially in an online environment. They need to know we are there & we are human. Personally, I think the students need to know we are/will be responsive. Students worry about the what ifs.. what if my computer crashes? What if I cannot find .... What if I just cannot understand something? How can I ask a question? Those what ifs can be resolved with clear guidelines & empathy.

We also explored the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). We looked at the principals of UDL, which create an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to learn. By providing a flexible approach that can be customized for individual learning. It was so inspiring to see different ideas about how to humanize an online classroom. Of the different tools we were exposed to I really like the short video I made. It is embedded here for your review – enjoy. I feel as if the resources were well worth the time the invested.

Credits:

Created with images by erleyresendesilva - "sand beach footprints"

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