Try some of the following easy-to-execute strategies to increase instructor presence in your online course:

Set clear expectations and be consistent.

Be sure your syllabus includes descriptions of your teaching style, the course environment, and the time needed to complete weekly activities.

Be seen in the course 3-4 times each week.

If instructors don’t maintain an ongoing presence in the course, students feel like they are on their own and are not getting the attention they deserve.

Model the behaviors you expect students to demonstrate.

Set an example for your students by participating, being present, staying organized, and sticking to your schedule.

Give regular and substantive feedback on assignments and activities.

Try some of these feedback strategies from the Illinois Online Network – Strategies for Providing Feedback in Online Courses

Share your own stories.

You will more easily viewed as a vital, human presence and students will better connect with you if you share your own stories.

Reach out to students who are struggling or who have disappeared.

Struggling students are more likely to succeed if you reach out to let them know you are prepared to help.

Schedule regular office hours. 

Learn about some of the advantages of holding virtual office hours and how to maximize your one-on-one time with students in this article by Dr. Tasha Davis of Austin Community College. Then read about how Stefan Stoll of the University of Washington holds online office hours. He uses a videoconferencing tool in Canvas (their LMS) but you can use Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom instead.

Participate in discussion boards.

Participate in discussion boards to provide feedback, answer questions, redirect a discussion, probe, elaborate, or assist.

Regularly communicate with the class in a way that shows active monitoring of student progress.

It’s not enough to just log into the course. Show that you are paying attention by providing feedback, recording end of module wrap-ups, and posting regular announcements.

Start with an orientation to the course.

Courses developed for UA Online typically have an introduction module to orient your students to the course. This gives students a brief overview of the course, tells them how to navigate the course, and includes information on how to get technical help.

Include a welcome video so students see and hear a real person.

An introduction video is a great first “hello” for your course, and lets your students know you are ready to get started. Not only does it provide an opportunity to show your own excitement, it also can provide helpful information about the course.

Include module introductions.

A module introduction is an effective strategy to gain attention at the beginning of a module.

Make sure the course is well organized.

A structured, well-organized course makes it easier for your students to navigate the course and communicates that you are paying attention.

Provide a schedule and be clear about what is expected of your students.

This goes hand-in-hand with course organization. By communicating your expectations and assessment frameworks, you are not only facilitating their learning, you are also letting your providing clear guidance for your students and letting them know you care about their progress.

Provide an activity to help orient students to the course tools.

We sometimes assume that students are more comfortable with technology than they actually are. Course tools may not be intuitive, so spend a few minutes orienting them to the LMS with a scavenger hunt or similar activity. Try to make your students comfortable by having them explore course tools.