Finding your own online presence

and who are you?

Image courtesy of Mitsoku Tonouchi, available under Creative Commons license.

This word ‘presence’. We hear it a lot. It relates strongly to two of the Online QLT standards (KPI9 – landing pages and KPI12 – staff to student interaction), and is also part of CSU’s Online Learning Model. At first glance, it can seem like academics are being asked to imitate some ‘perfected’ idea of teacher presence. Take a closer look, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Teacher presence is a lot of things:

  • It’s a social thing – about connecting and belonging;
  • It’s a psychological thing – about creating an environment where the technology disappears and you feel as if you are ‘together’ in the same room;
  • It’s an emotional thing – emotions can act as a gatekeeper to the take up of information and concepts, and helping others feel safe and supported can greatly assist in the learning process.

Like it or not, we all create a sense of ‘presence’ whenever we teach. Some people’s presence is sharp and forceful like a knife; others grand and magnetic like a mountain; others can be firm and supportive like the earth, or receptive like an ocean. Very few seem almost invisible. The question is not as much about creating a teacher presence, but about creating your presence. While we can learn a lot from imitating how others act online, the goal is to allow your own authentic presence to emerge.

How are academics creating their own teacher presence?

The landing page is usually the first chance online students have to ‘meet’ the person guiding them through their subject over the next 14 weeks. Most of us already do a lot of things to create a strong teaching presence on the landing page: a warm and informative welcome message, an engaging video – but don’t forget audio. The Serial podcast in 2014 was a massive success and started a revival of the podcast genre. It’s one of those ‘retro’ technologies that’s not been explored or utilised fully yet.

Similarly, ongoing staff-to-student interaction is important in maintaining a strong presence in the subject. This includes how you communicate subject information, as well as how you facilitate conversations within the subject.

Here, four different academics from the Faculty of Business talk about the strategies they have used to create a sense of teacher presence.

Check back soon…one more academic will be sharing here!

From personalised emails, to interactive online meetings, videos with personality, Facebook groups and interactive landing pages, each academic has selected strategies that work for them to create the kind of teacher presence that reflects themselves as educators, and which suits the cohorts they are teaching.

As this blog progresses, the QLT Online Leads will be posting a wide range of examples of strategies and technologies, as well as some ‘quick tips’ on small things you can do to enhance your subject, including your online presence. It’s a good chance to step back, and think about what kind of presence you are trying to create. Do you want to be seen as a highly experienced practitioner? A researcher? A fellow student? A friendly advisor? All of the above?

These screencasts were originally created by the academics as part of the Wired4Teaching project within the Faculty of Business. 

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