How Can I Show Authenticity to Anonymous Online Students?
Do you want to get to know each student individually when you start a new online class? Is it possible for you to think of your students as more than just a collection of unidentified names?
Even though these visual perceptions may not always be accurate, instructors will likely have a fairly predictable group of students in a traditional college class who can be visually assessed. The traditional definition of a college student no longer applies to a class of online students because there may be a greater variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental impairments, and other types of physical and mental challenges can participate in an online class. There is an old proverb that says you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and with online students, there are no visible covers to evaluate. Even the terms that are used to describe learning in an environment that is enabled by technology are not very encouraging. For instance, the terms “online learning” and “distance learning” both sound mechanical. However, the relationship between the instructor and the student is at the heart of teaching in any setting, but especially in an online classroom. Even if that relationship can’t be established in a short period of time, it will help students succeed and stay in school.
Assisting online students in establishing their identity.
Because they all appear to be the same when represented by a printed name or number, an online instructor may initially consider their students to be of the same type. Students and teachers can now personalize classroom posts by uploading a photo to their profiles on some learning management system platforms. From the perspective of the students, there are still some who are unwilling to share any personal information, others who share too many details, and still others who wish to remain anonymous. A student is more likely to freely and without apparent repercussions to express their thoughts when they believe they are anonymous. Some students, in my experience, have even felt empowered by their sense of freedom and have freely communicated with other students and teachers.
Every name in the classroom represents a person who wants to achieve a goal but may be unable to effectively express themselves, particularly if they have identity issues. Their internalized self-beliefs, which have been maintained over time and do not change easily or quickly, are what lead to the formation of an identity. When students participate in class, those identity-related issues and challenges, including a negative self-image, persist. Through encouraging interactions, feedback, and communication, a teacher can assist students in discovering their true selves.
How to Get Rid of Being Private.
Beyond what is required of them, such as participation in the discussion board, students cannot be forced to interact with their teachers. However, it might be possible to get their cooperation if a strong working relationship is established. It may take additional effort on the part of the instructor to change a student’s mindset when their reluctance is caused by their perceptions or previous negative experiences. Students can be coaxed out of their anonymity or they can continue to hide away.
You can get to know your students and help them develop their online persona by taking a few simple steps. You can, for instance, post their introduction using a variety of options, such as a recorded voice or a visual introduction. While you cannot predict how students will react to you as an instructor, you can make an effort to collaborate with them and get to know them.
Why relationships online are important.
The necessity of working with students to support their success is the most significant reason why relationships are important. Positive relationships with students humanize the learning experience and help keep the online environment from becoming robotic. Students see you as “real,” and you in turn see them as “real” to them. The word “relate” is at the heart of the word “relationship,” which cannot be forced, but you can cultivate.
Instead of relying solely on pre-written comments, for instance, you can tailor the feedback that students receive. Even if you never meet your students, you can still collaborate with them and offer to help. Keep a close eye on how you communicate with them and do your best to always be of assistance. This serves as a reminder that teaching involves much more than classroom management because students in every class rely on you.
Establish meaningful connections.
When you ask students to post an introduction at the start of the class, it’s a great way to break the ice and gives you a chance to tell them what you want them to share. Despite the fact that fun facts are entertaining, think about the value of what you ask them to post. The objective is to begin comprehending their developmental requirements by learning something about them.
As a means of establishing an open dialogue with them, in addition to the introduction, you can also provide multiple sources of availability, such as email and instant messaging. To lessen students’ frustration and anxiety, check email as frequently as possible. Weekly office hours can be held with the help of instant messaging. This helps establish an open connection with them and gives the impression that you are approachable and accessible.
Your relationship with students can be further impacted by any interaction you have with them. You will be seen as more approachable if you are able to build rapport with your students. They will discover that you possess emotional intelligence if you respond to circumstances in a proactive rather than reactive manner. As their instructor, it is your responsibility to begin and maintain meaningful relationships. Although responding to students’ questions and discussion posts in a superficial manner may appear sufficient, the ultimate objective is to cultivate engaging communication so that students will collaborate with you.
Increasing Your Student Visibility
Students can tell that you are engaged in the class when you have a strong online presence. It is comparable to attending a traditional classroom to observe an instructor; Students feel more at ease the more the instructor is seen. You can’t run an online class from afar, but by being there, you can start to close the gap. Utilizing the discussion board, take the time to engage students in conversation and follow up with them as they respond. Responding to every student at least once for each required discussion question demonstrates to them that you appreciate their efforts and contributions. When the class is large, it may be difficult to respond to every student. If this is the case, try to rotate your responses so that every student eventually receives a response.
Additionally, trust is a significant issue in online classes and difficult to cultivate in a virtual setting. Students begin to evaluate your credibility as they interact with you. If you respond to their concerns and requests in a manner that is both fair and firm, they will probably come to trust you. Beyond managing the classroom and carrying out your required facilitation responsibilities, getting to know your students requires effort and time. However, the end result is that students feel connected to the class, distance is reduced, and they are fully engaged in the learning process, making the time spent working together enjoyable for everyone.