Tuesday, March 17, 2015

10 Ways to Use Video to Boost Instructor Presence in an Online Environment

Okay, if you have been following my blog for the last month or so, you know that I have been participating in free professional development through a MOOC called Tinker, Make, & Learn, a course focused on developing a Makerspace.  Well, the course ended...but not the desire to continue to build our new space.  I promise I will be posting our latest make before the week's end!!! In the meantime, I thought I would share what I am learning now in a course called Humanizing Online Instruction: The #HumanMOOC.

Technically, it is a course for online instructors, but the information could apply to any classroom. Take this week for example...our topic: Establishing Instructor Presence.  In an online environment, learner isolation is one of the primary reasons students choose not to continue in a web-based program, but an instructor can help combat the isolation by humanizing the learning experience.  So, what does that mean?  The teacher can ensure that students know that course material has not just been launched out into who knows where by a professor in a galaxy far, far away, but that a real, live person is on the other end carefully planning and teaching.

One of the ways suggested to boost instructor presence is through the utilization of  video.  Video allows people to see and hear you and if students can see you and hear you, they feel as if they know you.  If they feel as if they know you, they are more likely to approach you.  Being more of a traditional K-12 girl (not online teacher anymore), I began to think about others besides just my students that I wanted to "get to know me"...the parents being at the top of my list!  I think often times parents want to support their kiddos, but they are not sure quite how to help.  The same types of videos that an instructor might create for students could be shared on the K-12 educator's parent portal...just a thought:)

So, video? Yes!  Think about the last email you received. Unless it is filled with emojis and exclamation marks, it is hard to read into it the verbal and non-verbal cues that one would normally recognize in a face-to-face interaction. Video is much more powerful than text alone.  Even asynchronous one way video begins to feel like a conversation when students and parents view this type of communication regularly.

How can you use video to boost instructor presence in the K-12 classroom???  Here are the top 10 ideas shared by Tracy Schaelen, online instructor for Southwestern College (I've linked to some of her videos so that you can see examples):
1)  Use video on your website as a greeting prior to the course beginning - think about the anxiety this could alleviate!  It is a great way to welcome new parents and students and for them to "see" you before arriving on the first day of school.
2) Conduct a course tour via video.  This is especially helpful at the beginning of the course so that students and parents can see how to navigate through the online environment associated with the class.  You can demonstrate how to access grades, see the syllabus, find class notes, and turn in digital assignments.
3) Use video to introduce a new unit of study.  Whether teaching online or in a traditional setting, peaking a student's interest is key. It could be like a movie trailer of sorts that gets students excited about what is to come.  It also provides an entry point for parents.  If parents see where you are going, they can get involved, read up on the topic with their child, share resources, pull images and videos, and help connect the dots for students.  Dialogue can changed from, "How was school today?" to "Tell me about ______.  Did you get to the ______  yet?"
4) Make announcements using video to personalize messages and allow viewers to see facial expressions and hear the instructor's tone of voice.
5) Use video to provide feedback on student work thus allowing you to make the same type of comments you would make normally, but with much more detail.  Ms. Schaelen suggested using props with numbers on them, so that a student can quickly find the markers before each comment. Feedback video should be kept unlisted to ensure privacy.
6) Create "how-to" videos. This particular video is for students and shows how to find and use video feedback.
7)  Make a video to introduce a research assignment, major project, or special event in the classroom.
8)  Use student created videos to demonstrate understanding, add to an electronic portfolio, peer tutor, or build resources for those needing extra support.
9)  Video a guest presenter.  As a high school teacher, I want my students to connect with college admissions counselors.  On several occasions, an invited counselor could visit only one of the 6 classes I taught; while I was happy that 25 students heard from the admissions counselor, I found myself wishing that ALL of the kids could benefit from the information. Video would be a perfect way to capture and share the guest's visit.
10) Use snippets of video from various locations throughout the course to allow students and parents to get to know you even better.  Consider sharing video from your latest 5K, your weekend excursion, or something you saw that you thought was interesting.

Why? "Showing" is powerful.  Videos help students and parents build a personal connection with the instructor and make content, announcements, and details accessible anytime and anyplace (everything I believe in!!!) So, I guess the question I need to ask next is "What will I video today?"

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