I have been spending some time here lately wondering if the students in my classes (and the classes that I design of faculty) are taking the class and becoming “Thor the Viking” or just an online student? There is always much to be said in terms of retention of online students. Did they complete the course? Did they sign up for another course? Did they complete the degree? Did they show up for graduation? Did they as an alumni donate to the university? The list goes on.
Since I work at a university that is both brick and mortar and online, do our online students just feel like they are online students? Or do they feel like they are apart with an actual university? Do they identify with the minutia of being “Thor the Viking?” I believe this is an important question to ask.
*I chose not to put my current university mascot here to separate my work from my interest, i.e., I do not work at BYU Idaho.
Social presence is something that we should be thinking about here. How are our students truly “connected” in the online course? The hope is that they are vested into the content, but are they also vested with their peers and the instructor? In a MOOC I was involved with previously, Human Element: An Essential Online Course Component, it discusses that:
Effective student-centric learning design provides students with opportunities to connect socially, collaborate on group projects, and discuss course content with each other. The teacher does not need to be at the center of the course for learning to occur.
In this video, students talk about their experience of learning online in a course with social presence.
What an interesting perspectives from the students of BYU in Idaho. I wonder if they would identify themselves with the Thor the Viking?
What are some ways in which you use social media, multimedia, and other tools to enhance the social presence of you and your students within your courses? Do you feel like adding social presence activities in a course could turn your online students into Thor the Viking?