Showing Up vs Being Present

I’ve been working on a personal goal with regards to my online class. While recently I have been making it a focus to get my students logging in to the course, I mustn’t forget to motivate them to participate and meet deadlines.

In previous semesters, attendance was often an issue.  Many students were not logging in regularly, didn’t keep up with news items and assignments, and frequently emailed me to ask what was happening. This could be frustrating at times because I was very diligent about posting daily, clarifying questions and updating the calendar.

With some recent changes to my personal approach, I have met with an increased success of log ins, attendance, and students making it the page with fewer questions as to “what do I do?” This is rewarding.

What I cannot let slide is the importance of students completing the curriculum.  Many students have the independent motivation to finish work, meet deadlines and stay on top of content.  I cannot let other students fall between the cracks.

I realize even in face to face classes, not everyone will be engaged every minute. Sometimes we need to push a little bit, motivate, inspire, and encourge task completion .  What I have been noticing recently is that although my students are coming to the page, are emailing me and noticing and listening to my messages, the drop boxes aren’t filling as fast.

I don’t know if there is a perception that online is different that a “regular” class. Do students think it is not as important as a face to face because no one is there everyday, for one hour, giving the direct personal contact? Do they think the content is somehow easier or less noteworthy?  Perhaps my expectations are set too high?

 If we interview for co-op students and peer tutors, do we need an interview process for the compatibility of students to elearning? Obviously, many of my students do quite well using this platform. The have the independence, drive, time, and access to technology that suits them very well for elearning.  I’m concerned for the students who struggle in the regular classroom and are placed in online learning as a means to an end.  I understand the need to nurture the “hard to reach” student, but developing trust in this system could also be difficult from a “virtual” person. 

I think it really is a two step process. Many of my students now see me as a real person, they come to the page, they ask questions and answer them. Check. Now I have to tackle and challenge their difficulty accessing (figuratively) the content. If they struggled face to face, it doesn’t automatically stand to reason those problems are cleared up online.

 I would still like to see an element of face to face with the homeschool. Maybe a weekly or biweekly check in?  I would like 2 email addresses attached to the student. One directly for him and one linked to the homeschool contact. Yes, you could opt out if it is just a clarity of content issue, but if I need immediate help from their homeschool, it’s right there and that person could check in as well. A matter of student success should involve the “whole village” not just the two of us struggling to understand each other.

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