Online Course-in-a-Box

Table of Contents 
Student Connections
Connecting with Your Students

Garrison et al.2 argued that teaching presence, together with cognitive presence and social presence, are the three essential elements in a Community of Inquiry model to promote a learning community and educational outcomes. Teaching presence is involved with instructional management, building understanding, and direct instruction.2 Instructional management is concerned with course design such as setting curriculum, designing assessment, and selecting the medium. Building understanding is established when instructors actively facilitate effective student discussions to help them reach consensus and understanding. Direct instruction is about presenting content and questions and providing guidance and feedback through assessments. Previous studies indicate teaching presence is related to increased motivation, enhanced sense of learning community, and student success.

Best Practices

  • Enhance instructor presence by using introductory videos. Introductory videos can serve as welcome messages for online students. They help instructors introduce the course as well as let students see instructors as multifaceted human beings.3
  • Provide timely feedback through announcements, discussion forums, emails, online office hours, online chats, etc. Timely interaction between students and instructors is significant to developing a strong online community. When feedback is not received in a timely manner, students feel isolated and unsure if their efforts are correct. (Young & Norgard, 2006)
  • Use audiovisual feedback via screencasting. Students perceive text-plus-audiovisual feedback to be more personal and effective for them to interact with the instructor. Such feedback also promotes a better sense of community in the course and helps students learn the course material more effectively. (Mathieson, 2012)

  1. Duquense University Center for Teaching Excellence, Establishing an Online Teaching Presence
  2. Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2), 87-105.
  3. Jones, K. L., & Phelps, J. (2014). Powerful instructor presence via video: Intros, bios, and digital stories. Paper presented at the 30th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, 12-14 August (pp. 258-262).
  4. Mathieson, K. (2012). Exploring student perceptions of audiovisual feedback via screencasting in online courses. American Journal of Distance Education, 26(3), 143-156.
  5. Young, A., & Norgard, C. (2006). Assessing the quality of online courses from the students' perspective. The Internet and Higher Education.