Yesterday, I spoke a little bit about how to prioritize building trust between student and instructor in an online class through design. However, as I said before, building and maintaining trust in an online class also depends on how the course is delivered. Design is all about planning; delivery is all about, well, delivery.
It almost goes with out saying that all good online courses have a present, active instructor. In order to build and maintain trust with their students, instructors need to interact with their students and show that they are invested in their learning experience. Instructors need to be attentive to their students’ work and needs. Here are some of the ways that I build trust with my students through attentive delivery.
- Grading Schedule: Constructing a grading schedule is more than requiring students to turn in assignments on time. It is important for instructors to stick closely to a schedule as well. In order for online students to make significant strides in their coursework, they’ll need feedback from their instructors on what they are doing correctly and what they’ll need to improve. Sticking to a specific, structured grading schedule helps students trust that their academic course work is worth their time. Reliability is vital to the online environment, so always strive to deliver a course that students can rely on.
- Discussion Board Support: Facilitating conversations in online courses is important. Discussion Boards add a human component to the course that is often severely lacking. Discussion Board assignments in online classes can feel very intimidating at first. They require a lot of maintenance and a lot of time. However, the benefits from a well-run Discussion Board are undeniable. If students feel that their discussions are valuable (more than just busy work) and regularly patrolled by the instructor, they are more likely to put in the effort it takes to maintain a quality discussion. If you have more questions about running a successful Discussion Board, take a look at this video!
- Online Office Hours: Holding scheduled, online office hours for students helps them to trust that their instructor is invested in the course. If students know that they can always reach you at 2:00 pm on a Tuesday, you are more likely to avoid the fear of an unresponsive instructor.
- Encouraging Use of Supplemental Activities/Information: As I mentioned yesterday, supplemental activities and information can help students feel like an instructor is invested in their education. But what good does this supplemental information serve if students are never directed to it for further learning. Like any other type of marketing, it is helpful to regularly “plug” this information for students to access. Encourage them to visit a website or read an article if you think it would answer frequently asked questions.