If you are teaching online, you are most likely subjected to rigorous rules about posting and daily login requirements.
However, meeting the minimum is not usually sufficient if you want to engage your learners and help them thoroughly understand material and have solid take-aways from your course. Some of the rules in play are designed to keep the University off of the radar of poor legislative practices, but are not necessarily the best thing for you and your students. You need to be present, and more than in discussion boards or announcements. Don’t be a ghost in your online classroom!
There are many ways to stay engaged in the online course setting.
For starters, create interesting dialogues with learners will enable students to feel connected. Online students have a higher rate of professional experience than traditional students, so chances are your students are coming into class armed with knowledge about the subject – and they can add value both to other students and to the professor. I have learned a lot from my students over the course of many years who have vast experiences in different areas. Ask your students questions that encourages them to think outside the box, analyze a topic from a new angle, and perhaps best yet – allows them to apply what they are learning in the classroom right away to the workforce – a sure fire way to keep students engaged and being constantly reminded about the value of their degree.
Many of us create and facilitate Facebook groups for students of a particular discipline at a university, and then manage that forum for the group. Before long, if you are willing to take some simple steps to administer it, you will have graduates keeping the newer students motivated — a super helpful tool for retention.
See what’s wrong or right
Another way to encourage participation in the course and to show your students how visible you are in the class is to post new research and topics for discussion that are related to current events. For example, in my statistics classes I often post surveys or polls and ask students what they “see wrong or right” with the methodology. This gets learners thinking in new and creative ways about what they read in the media, a great skillset that can serve them well in lots of areas of life.
Other professors create videos, welcome introductory notes and record themselves and post links to the file in the classroom, adding a personal touch to a class some find impersonal. You can do this using audio tools like k7.net or by filming yourself and posting the video on YouTube with a link into the courseroom. In an online world, sometimes it takes a little creativity to keep your students engaged.