Virtual School Meanderings

March 23, 2016

SITE 2016 – Establishing Presence and Community in the Online Classroom

Continuing from yesterday…  As I mentioned in the entry entitled SITE 2016 And K-12 Online Learning, the the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) 2016 annual conference is occurring in Savannah, Georgia this week, and SITE is home to the K-12 Online Learning SIG.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The fourteenth – and first – session for this second day I am blogging is:

Establishing Presence and Community in the Online Classroom

  1. Brianne Leigh Moore-Adams, Virginia Commonwealth University, United States
  2. Sarah Warnick, Virtual Virginia, United States

Wednesday, March 23 10:45 AM-11:15 AM in Regency F View on map

Discuss  Download Paper View Slides Download Slides

Online learning creates a unique environment in which teachers are expected to form relationships with students that are not within their physical proximity. These expectations create specific challenges for the online teacher. This paper describes four dimensions of a successful virtual community: the online persona and virtual classroom, the synchronous session, giving meaningful feedback and the encouragement of student engagement. These four dimensions were developed by two experienced online educators using research of the literature in online teaching and learning as well as their own experiences in the field.

Full Paper
Teaching and Learning with Emerging Technologies K-12 Online Learning

Bri and Sarah began with introductions – both have worked for Virtual Virginia for several years.  Bri indicated that this session was less a best practices, and more a lessons learned based on their online 6-12 teaching experience.

Bri presented what she referred to as the four dimensions of a success virtual community:

  1. the online persona and the virtual classroom
    • initial impressions should invite the students to the community
    • sense that there is a teacher behind the system, not just a machine
    • consistency with the students face-to-face experiences
  2. the synchronous sessions
    • need to well planned
    • studies report high student satisfaction with synchronous
    • clear student discussion guidelines
  3. meaningful feedback
    • main student complaint is length of time it takes to get feedback
    • feedback needs to be informative, specific, and constructive
  4. encouraging student engagement
    • simple engagement can have positive impact on student success
    • teachers should also participate in the discussion
    • active students promote better “teacher presence”

At the end of their session, although primarily related to the final dimension, Bri did mention this resource:

Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation: Resource Guide –

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