The online space presents unique opportunities and challenges for teaching. Maintaining instructor presence, for example, is crucial yet challenging when teaching virtually. Without physical presence, it is also challenging for instructors to ensure student engagement, both with the learning materials and with their learning community.

The resources we gathered below outline the best practices for teaching online, including maintaining your online presence, engaging students, and building a robust learning community.

How Do I Maintain My Presence Online?

Our faculty members and learning community are the core of the Georgetown experience. You can maintain your presence online in various ways:

Synchronous Sessions

Synchronous sessions are a chance for you to meet with students “face-to-face” virtually. It gives you a chance to directly engage with the students and show your personality to them.  Zoom is a useful tool for these synchronous sessions. Check out our recorded webinar on Facilitating a Class in Zoom or our tipsheet on Structuring Zoom Sessions for Engagement to learn more.

Office Hours

Hosting virtual office hours is an effective way to understand students’ challenges, provide customized support, and maintain instructor presence. You can easily manage office hours in Canvas. For more instructions, check out this information on setting up office hours.

Providing Timely Feedback on Assignments

How Do I Engage Students Online?

Learning is more effective when students can actively engage with the learning materials, activities, and environment. Beyond cognitive benefits, engagement stimulates passion, curiosity, and a sense of belonging, all of which are crucial for creating a signature Georgetown experience.  

Review this guidebook on engaging students (CNDLS guidebook)

You can also use digital tools to make your teaching, whether synchronously or asynchronously, more engaging. Below are a few resources: 

How Do I Create a Robust Learning Community?

“Learning communities foster the social construction of knowledge, cooperative learning, active learning, an emphasis on integration and synthesis of diverse student perspectives, as well as student-student, student-staff, and staff-staff collaboration.” (Stefanou, C. & Salisbury-Glennon, J., 2002)

Building a learning community means helping students maintain their own online presence so they can provide intellectual and emotional support for each other. Below are a few tools you can use to create a learning community: 

Things Are Different Now

In the words of one graduate student, Clare Reid, “things are different now.” Our students are carrying a lot more stress and uncertainty, as are we all. Students have a wider variety of experiences and expectations because of their different home environments from which they are participating in class. Read one student’s perspective about the ‘new normal’ here. 

By Clare Reid

This set of panels is from Reid’s “Cura Personalis in the Cloud,” a graphic essay about student experiences in Spring 2020.