Engage students and share your expertise by being present in your course.
What is instructor presence?
Your presence is a key factor in building student engagement in your course. This means a physical or visual presence — your picture, videos of you talking to / instructing students — as well as your unique angle on course materials and how you deliver them. When you put you into your course, students are more likely to reciprocate and dedicate effort to the course as well.
How Can I Use Instructor Presence in My Course?
Instructor’s presence includes things like:
- a personal introduction at the beginning of the course that includes photos or video
- your perspective on each topic
- your relevant stories in your lecture materials
- providing links to current information in lecture materials and notes
- the value-added experience/expertise/reflection that you give to the course content
- important elements of the topic that aren’t in the course textbook
- expert interviews/journal articles with an explanation of why they were chosen
- your feedback to student work, including written comments, video response, and/or occasional one-to-one conferences
- your availability for one-to-one communication with students — via email, chat, office hours (face-to-face or virtual)
Considerations for Online Courses
If you’re teaching an online course, your presence is both harder to achieve and essential for helping students connect to their learning. Video is a straightforward way to get your presence into the course — try creating an intro video for the course and try introducing a few assignments with video. You can also give feedback to students using a simple webcam on your computer — this can be both quicker for you in your grading process, and can help students connect to what you’re saying.
To give your perspective on course materials — an important aspect of instructor presence — be sure to write your own framing intro for each unit, and try using announcements to keep regular contact and give your ideas about what students will be encountering this week/module. When you come across an article or news story that’s relevant, share it with students in an announcement, discussion thread, synchronous session, or video lecture.
Baker, C. (2010). The impact of instructor immediacy and presence for online student affective learning, cognition, and motivation. Journal of Educators Online, 7(1).
Ladyshewsky, R. K. (2013). Instructor presence in online courses and student satisfaction. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(1).
Richardson, J. C., Koehler, A. A., Besser, E. D., Caskurlu, S., Lim, J., & Mueller, C. M. (2015). Conceptualizing and investigating instructor presence in online learning environments. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(3).
Sheridan, K., & Kelly, M. A. (2010). The indicators of instructor presence that are important to students in online courses. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(4).
Sarah Stanley’s “Research Writing” course (ENGL-414) uses WordPress and an interactive, 360-degree space to deliver learning materials and assignments.
Watch a Sample Course Introduction
UAF Instructional Designers
This page has been authored collectively by the experts on the UAF Instructional Design Team. Let us know if you have suggestions or corrections!