UNF Center for Instruction and Research Technology

Cirt Knowledge Base

Establishing a Strong Presence


In the September 2022 issue, CIRT News introduced the 9 Principles for Online Teaching developed by the Distance Learning Committee to establish best practices for online teaching at UNF. Here, we will focus on the first principle, establishing a strong presence.

9 principles for online teaching

Presence refers to an impression of community connectedness, togetherness, and awareness created by expressing strategic thoughts, feelings, and actions through an online medium. How will you convey your instructor presence to students? Adding YouTube videos, article links, web links, etc., provides students with various forms of content you have curated, but what’s your perspective? Here are some ideas to support the delivery of your information to students.

Make your voice heard in the course content. Talk to students (ex. You will…), not about students (ex. Students will…) using conversational language. Just as you would talk to students in the face-to-face classroom using non-formal, everyday language, make sure your voice is also present in the online environment. In the face-to-face classroom, you wouldn’t pass out a worksheet or PowerPoint slides and give no explanation as to its purpose, so you shouldn’t do that in the online environment either. Adult learners are motivated by knowing why they are being asked to do something or why it matters. Provide students with instructions on what you want them to do and why.

Show your face. You can use videos for announcements, discussion boards, lectures, and many other reasons to communicate with students. Even though some people may feel a little anxious about being on camera, it creates a more engaging and exciting video when you include yourself in the view. Students will see you as someone participating in the course and as the content expert. Turn on your webcam and keep your videos short and relevant to students.

Give personalized feedback. When students receive no feedback on their assignments, it can feel like there isn’t a teacher present in the class, and it is running on autopilot. Use the SpeedGrader in Canvas to provide students personalized feedback on their assignments via document annotation, video, and/or audio.

If you have examples of how you establish a strong presence in your online teaching, we would love to hear from you! We are currently looking for UNF faculty interested in creating short videos that provide concrete examples of the nine principles. Please contact Rozy Parlette at rozy.parlette@unf.edu if you have any questions.

For assistance implementing this principle, schedule a consultation with an Instructional Designer.

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