Connecting with Students Online

By Eileen Harden
Florida Virtual School
Social Studies Instructor
Connecting with students online presents challenges, as well as rewards. I never meet my students face-to-face, so it is important that I establish a warm, nurturing and supportive environment from the beginning. One of the best ways an online teacher may help students adjust to learning in cyberspace is to prepare a thorough, easily understood welcome Email. It should introduce the teacher and relay some interesting personal items and include responses to frequently asked questions. Also, including a link to a course tutorial will lower students’ apprehensions. Additionally, teachers may connect with students via an inviting, attention grabbing announcement page, including pictures, trivia questions or other items that encourage interactivity. Students should be allowed to share personal information, accomplishments, poetry, pictures, etc., with teachers and students. Connections may also be made via the course discussion area. Instructors may want to include stimulating, thought-provoking topics for discussion. Finally, responding quickly to students’ questions and touching base with them frequently helps prevent frustration and keeps students engaged and eager to learn.