This year GCC will host the Mass Colleges Online Conference on June 2. This is an exciting opportunity for GCC to showcase not only our beautiful campus, but also the incredible work we do in the realm of online teaching. For more details, visit the conference website.
Supporting online students is a process that begins with strong advising and communicating the demands and opportunities of distance learning. While we have a few fully online degree seeking students in the liberal arts program, most of our online students are also on-campus students. They take online classes based on the demands of their work and personal schedules, transportation challenges, to learn new skills, health concerns that make it difficult to attend class regularly and many other reasons. During the spring advisement and registration push, visit the T & L section on online learning to help students decide if online learning is the right fit. Information about netiquette and student communication is also available.
Even if we are not currently teaching online class, there is a great deal we can learn from effective online instructors. Online faculty often exhibit strong skills in the areas of time management, organization, written communications and diplomacy, and tech savvy. Beyond those areas, much has been written about the distinct ability of these instructors to motivate and encourage students. See the Faculty Focus article on the 8 Roles of an Effective Online Teacher.
Many students in online classes report that at some points in the semester they feel alone in their learning and struggle to make connections with their instructors and classmates. Countering student isolation in online classes helps increase retention rates and promotes learning and engagement with content that can lead to better grades. Read more about this challenge in Strategies to Engage Online Students and Reduce Attrition Rates. A 2012 study by Bollinger and Inan entitled Development and Validation of the Online Student Connectedness Survey (OSCS) details the ways in which students feel disconnected and how it impacts their satisfaction and performance in online classes. This might spell doom and gloom, but there are deliberate steps faculty can take to increase engagement and reduce isolation. Ten Ways to Engage Students in an Online Course offers suggestions for creating an effective online classroom community.
Other useful resources for student engagement:
Ten Ways to Overcome Barriers to Student Engagement Online (Academic Technology: At the College of William and Mary) By Ali Briggs.
Engaging online students with their communities by Jody Early