We recently caught up with Sharon Buchbinder, Professor/Program Coordinator at Stevenson University Online and learned just what it takes to keep students engaged in a fast-paced 8 week online course.
"Since I teach fully on line, keeping connected with students so they don't just feel like a number on the other side of a screen is critical. Setting a warm and welcoming tone in an online course is just as important as in a face to face course."
- Provide a SMILING headshot (not uber serious, frowning, scary, or intimidating) of yourself in the class, along with a brief bio highlighting information of interest to the course and students
- Post your teaching philosophy, so students have a sense of your teaching style. Mine is called "teaching as a contact sport" and I use a lot of team analogies.
- Make the course available at least five days before the class starts to give students time to download the syllabus and other important information and set up their calendars.
- In your first announcement, welcome the students to the course, and give them a brief description of what to expect
- Set up a conference call for the class to meet you and the other students at the start of the course. I like to use the BlueJeans meeting platform and I record the call in case students are not able to attend. Student feedback is very positive around this and I receive a lot of thanks for doing this. It sets the tone for the course and gives students an opportunity to ask questions about assignments.
- Be available, accessible, and affable. Welcome phone appointments from students and tell them you are there to help them to be successful.
- Post weekly briefings on the previous week's assignment and remind them what is due the following week. Students are busy, and yes, they can look at the syllabus. However, don't you like to get reminder calls from your dentist or doctor? Same principle.
- Respond to discussion board course questions, emails, phone calls, or texts within 48 hours. It's the courteous thing to do. Our courses are accelerated (8 weeks) we don't have a lot of time to waste.
- Return assignments BEFORE the next assignment is due to allow students the time to incorporate your feedback into their next submission.
- Stay engaged. Online teaching is not crock pot cooking. Do NOT set the course up and forget it! Get in there and connect with them on a regular basis.
In addition to teaching, Sharon Buchbinder is also one of our premier authors. She writes on the topic of health care management and currently has two titles published on the topic including: Introduction to Health Care Management, Fourth Edition and Cases in Health Care Management, Fifth Edition.