As Andrew Saltarelli explains in 4 Tips to Make an Online Course More Welcoming (4:06), there are psychological barriers or threats learners face in the learning environment and research that supports these four strategies to reduce these threats.
Do learners see diversity in your welcome images and do you include an inclusion statement? This tip is all about first impressions and taking a closer look at your welcome message(s). My imagination conjures this idea as an effort to create an inclusive and engaging community rather than separate silos for each individual student to navigate independently.
Do you have an activity where learners can express what values are important to them and how they believe your course will support those values? A small activity, like the survey mentioned in the video (1:50), can help learners feel more engaged. Did you catch the buzzword mentioned in this tip? (Hint: starts with a p!)
Do learners see diversity in your videos and/or testimonials from peers that have had a positive experience? I immediately thought of the amazing work DSC faculty have done with micro-lecture videos in collaboration with the Instructional Resources team, specifically the PSY1012 Gateway course, which includes videos from three different instructors throughout the course. The representation across videos can promote the feeling of belonging among online learners. Also mentioned was the significance of peer feedback or "stories" to encourage overall success and demystify the experience. If you're interested in creating a micro-lecture, feel free to submit a technology request ticket for video production with your script to work with the Instructional Resources team.
Do you have an activity where learners can make connections to peers with similar interests and/or goals? Mr. Saltarelli describes the social psychological research of mere belonging in which basic senses of connection to others can boost motivation. Translation? A simple icebreaker activity where learners share similar interests, experiences, or goals and establish connections could promote engagement.
Feel free to share any resources or articles you find interesting in the comments below and as always, please subscribe to stay up-to-date with the Division of Online Studies at DSC. Did you know you can also contact us by email at email@example.com? Of course, you can stop by the FIC Monday through Friday from 8 am - 5 pm or call us at extension 3485. We look forward to chatting with you soon!
Instructional Designer, Division of Online Studies
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Online Studies | Faculty Innovation Center (FIC)