Face-to-face vs. Online Student Interaction

Posted on September 20, 2013
By KCELT Team

This narrative blog entry was written by Willie Barbour, Professional Development Fellow and faculty in the English department.

I was looking forward to teaching this summer. This was going to be my first time teaching online. It would be a great learning opportunity for me, teaching my first 100% online course, well two courses. I say 100% because I have taught hybrid courses before and enjoyed them. But the summer wasn’t to be as pleasant as I had imagined back in late May. The problem that I couldn’t overcome was the lack of physical connection to the students. I couldn’t get over not seeing their faces, reading their body language as I gave out assignments or engaged them in discussions. I was in a vacuum and I didn’t, still don’t, know how to get over that.

This semester I am teaching face-to-face classes and enjoy the physical connections, it seems to me to be right, and I have no problems adjusting my lectures and/or discussions based how I am reading the class members. This brings me to why I am posting this. I want to know what others do to make that face-to-face connection in an online class. I can do video conferencing with students one on one but it still doesn’t give me the contact energy I need and that I gather from a full classroom. So what do you do? Or what have you experienced that might help overcome this?  I would love to start a conversation about this.  I look forward to your comments.

One thought on “Face-to-face vs. Online Student Interaction

  1. Tom Gibbons says:

    I don’t. I think it’s a losing proposition to expect juice from online teaching that’s akin to what you get from F2F. Even synchronous web conferencing with multiple participants isn’t the same. I get energy–different energy– from developing new learning materials and crafting new experiences. Then I use metrics and surveys to see if I can figure out how well things are working. It’s creative problem solving and inquiry.

    Plus, my students write a lot, so I learn a fair amount about them as individuals while I’m assessing their work. It doesn’t feel isolated to me at all. Our LMS facilitates a lot of direct communication, so that helps, too.

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