So far this semester I have added 3 new elements to increase my presence in the course, and I have already gotten very positive feedback from my students about them.
First, I did a classroom tour. Here is the 9-minute YouTube video I made of it. The transcript for it is in Blackboard (I need to tweak the captioning–question for Heather!). Students said it was extremely helpful and they were a bit lost until they viewed it, and that it is helping them with other online classes they are taking as well.
I also took my written introduction in the week 1 discussion and made a video of myself sharing it (so the transcript was what I’d already written). Again, students liked it, and the sense I have gotten is that they are more comfortable in the classroom, very excited for the course and also that they are feeling a bit more grounded than they usually are at this point.
And finally I developed introductions to each chapter, kind of like the “big picture” of each chapter. I did the first one in a Voki, which uses an avatar, but has my voice. I’m not sure I want to use Voki’s for all 12 chapter introductions, but I do plan to use some form of multi-media for them. Here is a link to my Voki:
Up until now I have not had much of my voice in the classroom besides lectures, and I am trying to get away from calling them ‘lectures’ and instead am breaking them into smaller pieces in more relevant spots in the online classroom. So students will “hear” me more often, and I think that will increase my presence and make them feel like their instructor is a real, live person!