In this episode, Jared Pyles talks with Dr. Patrick Lowenthal, Professor of Educational Technology at Boise State University. He has a PhD in Educational Leadership & Innovation from the University of Colorado – Denver. Check out the episode to hear about a key component of the Community of Inquiry framework—instructor presence.
Dr. Lowenthal discusses his experience teaching online courses and how his approach to building rapport with students has changed over time. In the early days of online education, video was not widely used, so interaction with students was primarily through asynchronous discussion forums or email. In this kind of environment, Dr. Lowenthal made an effort to be hyper-responsive and interact with students in these forums, getting to know them on a personal level. He also describes how helpful it can be to share personal stories as a way to build rapport with students and create a sense of authenticity.
Dr. Lowenthal recognizes that the teaching context, such as teaching smaller classes or graduate students, sometimes allows for more personalized interactions. Instructors may have different approaches to building social presence based on the size of their class, therefore it is important to find what works best for both the instructor and the students. He highlights a strategy that can be helpful for learning about your students —conducting pre-course surveys to discover their barriers and adjust your approach accordingly. He also mentioned that it can be helpful to implement audio and video tools into course design to create a supportive environment for students.
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