Hello, I am Sue Wolff and I work in Curriculum and Faculty Development at City University of Seattle. We are headquartered in Bellevue, WA - US, but have 12 practitioner-focused campuses around the world.
We require all faculty, regardless of delivery mode, to use the Blackboard LMS to post their contact information, available consulting hours, course documents and assignments, a welcome announcement, and weekly grades.
From this requirement, we can infer that the purpose of a faculty introductory post is to inform students who, how, and when they can contact someone about their course. We require nothing more of it, even of online only faculty. Therefore, the incentive to make one's self more knowable, present and human is internal to the instructor's own value system and understanding of social learning pedagogy.
I look forward to this discussion of faculty introductory posts.
SCoPE is a bit pokey today (probably because of the Olympic's increased network traffic on the server) but will no doubt improve after the initial setup is over.
Sue Wolff wrote,
This comment reminded me of an earlier experience working with an instructor who struggled with her online presence. In the classroom, in the lecture hall, during office hours on campus, she was dynamic, lively, and warm. But online --- in text -- she was very formal and, well, academic. (Some would say what's wrong with that?)
...the incentive to make one's self more knowable, present and human is internal to the instructor's own value system and understanding of social learning pedagogy.
The interesting part was that the instructor didn't seem to be aware of how she was coming across. I think that's fairly common. By deconstructing some of her online posts we were able to point to changes she could make in phrasing and tone. I'm sure when I was helping her I brought out my copy of Facilitating Online Learning: Effective Strategies for Moderators (I love that book!)
So in this case we were able to do a lot to remedy this through text, but thinking back I wonder if we could have done more by going beyond text. How can we help faculty to see the impact of their messages on learners, and to understand the value of being more "knowable, present and human"? And what is OTT (to use Andrea's words in the text chat from our live session. OTT=over the top)?
This is a challenge Sylvia.
I have a theory.
You then experieince things that open up these questions of how you come across, not just being told.
My story is a little bit sidebar but maybe pertinent in some ways. About 13 years ago, my family moved from one end of Canada to the extreme other end. We knew nobody in our new community. My husband got a job right away but for the first year I was at home, looking after 2 school-aged kids; otherwise feeling pretty isolated.
But... I kept in close email contact with my old buddies & with family members. I took some online classes & started teaching my own online course as a PD activity. One day it occurred to me just how 'real' my virtual life had become: my friends, colleagues, teachers & students were all online & 90% of them were ONLY available to me online. That was the year in which the technology became truly transparent for me & I started to 'see' the personalities without even noticing the computer screen. And I suppose that's the year in which I developed a comfortable online personality or presence of my own.
I suppose it's easier to be a good online host (managing introductions with sensitivity & flair) once you feel truly at home in the environment yourself.
Wish I had the time to take part in this SCoPE seminar. However, in case no has mentioned it, yet, I would also recommend reading Facilitating Online: A course leader's guide by Tonny Carr, Shaheeda Jaffer, and Jeanne Smuts. The book has excellent activities on how to facilitate online workshops and is free.