This post is the second in a series titled, Form an Online Connection. Part 1 was published March 9, 2017.
In my last post, Form an Online Connection, Part 1, you read about using your voice to connect with students. This time, the focus is on using your eyes. In a face-to-face course, students have the benefit of being in the same room with the instructor. This makes it possible to observe body language, vocal tone, and facial expressions. Valuable connections are made as the professor looks into each student’s eyes and allows them to return the gaze.
Open your eyes.
Bhat, Chinprutthiwond, and Perry (2015) hypothesized that videos allowing students to have eye contact with the instructor and to view non-verbal signals contribute to better student engagement in the online environment.
It’s true; direct eye contact can be very captivating. In the online speech course I teach, I post “coaching” videos to demonstrate certain speaking techniques. Not only does this allow me to model the expected behavior for my students, it gives me the opportunity to make one-on-one eye contact with each learner. Students are often quite apprehensive about giving speeches, so with my first video (posted below), I try to alleviate their fears, give them solid tips, and connect with them on a personal level.
Use a free tool.
Instructors may conveniently record from their webcam, phone, or another device. The recording can then be uploaded to YouTube and a link embedded in the course. In addition to appearing on camera, a professor may find value in sharing what is on their computer screen (think: documents, websites, images, PowerPoint slides). Screencast-o-Matic is free software that allows anyone to record up to 15-minutes of content.
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS ON WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO DO IT:
What kind of videos can you share with students? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
IDEA 1: Provide a brief review of the prior week’s learning.
- Recap the highlights of the week by emphasizing key concepts.
- Clarify topics with which students may have struggled.
IDEA 2: Model how students are to implement a particular concept and/or complete an assignment.
- Visually demonstrate the steps students need to take in order to be successful.
- Appear on camera, but also use screen-sharing software so you can illustrate with examples.
- Record yourself doing the task. If it’s a speech class, give a speech. If it’s a math course, solve a problem.
The main thing to keep in mind is to appear relaxed and personable.
Look directly into the lens of the camera. While it may feel awkward to you, your students will perceive that you are looking into their eyes.
Smile and use good vocal variety. Speak as though you are having a one-on-one conversation.
Keep your recording short and sweet. If it’s too brief, students won’t see the value; if it’s too long, they will tune out.
Although personal interaction may seem easier in the traditional classroom than it does in cyberspace, a little creativity and planning can result in a valuable online connection between the instructor and student through the use of video.
Bhat, S., Chinprutthiwong, P., Perry, M., & International Educational Data Mining, S. (2015). Seeing the Instructor in Two Video Styles: Preferences and Patterns.
Boling, E., Hough, M., Krinsky, H., Saleem, H., & Stevens, M. (2012). Cutting the distance in distance education: Perspectives on what promotes positive, online learning experiences. The Internet And Higher Education, 15(Special issue of the American Educational Research Association’s online teaching and learning special interest group), 118-126. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.11.006
El Mansour, B., & Mupinga, D. M. (2007). Students’ Positive and Negative Experiences in Hybrid and Online Classes. College Student Journal, 41(1), 242-248.
Wolff-Hilliard, D. d., & Baethe, B. b. (2013). Using Digital and Audio Annotations to Reinvent Critical Feedback with Online Adult Students. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 80(2), 40-44.