KPI12: Students experience a subject that provides structured opportunity for staff-to-student interactions in the online space.
A recurring theme in discussions with experienced distance and online teachers at CSU and one well supported in the literature is the idea that students respond very positively to subjects in which they feel that their learning is being supported by a teacher rather than feeling that they are being expected to study alone.
Very close engagement between online teachers and students can take up a lot of time and academic staff workload can constrain this. However, there are a number of strategies for bolstering the sense of teacher presence in a subject that don’t necessarily take more time. The desktop recording of presentations or the recording of lectures for face to face students, as well as the provision of synchronous sessions using web conferencing software such as Adobe Connect or Blackboard Collaborate provide valuable connections between learners and teachers facilitating a stronger teacher presence. Strategies for structuring and responding to student forum discussions can maximise the peer support of students and maximise the impact of lecturer responses without increasing the time spent managing the forum. Strategies that make the support of students by a teacher more explicit are also likely to lead to improvements in students’ rating of the quality of their experience through external surveys such as the Course Experience Questionnaire, which refer explicitly or implicitly to teaching and to student engagement with their teaching staff.
The minimum expectation for all CSU subjects with regard to staff-student interaction includes:
- there is clear and regular communication of subject information.
- the teaching staff initiates discussions via the discussion board (or other appropriate tool) and respond to student questions posted online at least once a week (as per Academic Communication with Students Policy).
- there are planned strategies for building teacher presence throughout the session.