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.