To get started in an online course, you may want to think about what kind of persona, or voice, you want to have as an online teacher. The first thing to do is to build a “presence” in your online class. Here are some suggestions for ways to do it:
1. Send a “Welcome” email.
Even before the course starts, send an email introducing yourself, welcoming students to the course, providing tips for getting started, and/or informing them as to how to access helpdesk resources. You might also provide them with alternate methods for reaching you in case of an “emergency,” such as, your office phone, home number, or an alternate email address.
2. Course Home Page Welcome.
As your first Announcement on the Course Homepage, post a “Welcome” message that greets the students and informs them as to how to get started and how to get help. You can also introduce yourself here. Think also about possibly enhancing your text messages with attractive images, as well a brief audio or video introduction. You may have essentially the same information as in your “Welcome” email, but in the online environment, being redundant is more beneficial than not.
3. Create a biography of yourself and prepare a brief video introducing yourself and the course topic to the class.
This could be the first thing that the students see in their course shell. This is a great way to present your personality online and set the mood for the semester. Ask students to do the same.
You can create either an “Introductions” forum as a Discussion Board or an “Introductions” class Blog for this activity. An important advantage to asking for student responses is that it gets them to immediately figure out how to post—one of the very fundamental aspects of an online course.
4. Respond to each student introduction.
You may want to respond to the students’ introductions individually or refer to them in the class Blog or Discussion Board. The key is to show that you have read their posts, are interested in getting to know everyone and in modeling ways to respond to posted messages. Ask students to do the same, responding to each other. If you and the students all post a photo, it will provide the class with visual representations of you and their peers.