Category: Interaction

RSI References and Resources

RSI References and Resources

 


Informational Webinar Recordings:
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What’s new?!

What’s new?!

The OSCQR rubric and supporting documentation have been updated to specifically identify standards that support RSI. This updated version is referred to as OSCQR 4.0.

  1. Specific OSCQR standards target online course design elements to directly address and support RSI.
    • OSCQR standards 2, 3, 29, 38, 39, 41, 43,  specifically address RSI in the standard itself.
  2. Specific OSCQR standards have been identified as standards that can support RSI compliance in some way.
    • OSCQR Standards 1, 6, 9, 10, 19, 30, 31, 40, 44-47, are RSI-related.

These RSI OSCQR standards have been enhanced to include:

  • An RSI section on each respective OSCQR standard webpage to clearly explain how the standard addresses RSI
  • An updated description of the standard and the examples augmented with additional detail and information to support an understanding and ideas for how to ensure that the online course meets the standard and RSI requirements.

OSCQR standards that support RSI in any way are identified:

  • On the OSCQR website for each respective standard by the RSI dashboard icon
  • On the .pdf and interactive rubrics by mini rsi dashboard

 


Informational Webinar Recordings:
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How OSCQR supports RSI

How OSCQR supports RSI

Best practices in high quality online courses assume regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between the online instructors and learners that is articulated in both the design and delivery of the course. OSCQR provides standards that can be used to guide and improve the instructional design of an online course, including explanations of  instructor intentions and expectations for aspects of the delivery of the online course.

RSI is still in the process of being understood, interpreted, and implemented. One can take a very strict /narrow interpretation, and the argument can be made that there are related practices that are more loosely supportive of RSI and good, general overall effective online practices.

RSI-related OSCQR Standards

OSCQR is a tool that looks ONLY at the instructional design of a course NOT the delivery, and includes effective practices beyond RSI. So, RSI has to be visible in the online course design of content, instructions, stated expectations, and dedicated spaces/areas/forums within the course, to apply/test against OSCQR standards.

OSCQR can be leveraged by faculty, instructional designers, departments, and institutions to assist in planning, designing, improving, documenting, and implementing online courses/programs that are in compliance with RSI regulations. However, there are multiple interconnected factors and activities that must be in place to support RSI. Faculty training, awareness, experience, skill, engagement, and delivery are essential additional aspects that will impact the success of any RSI/online course quality initiative, as are institutional/departmental policy, approaches, resources, support, and monitoring. To that end:

  1. OSCQR standards serve as guidelines and effective practices in new online course development and online course review of existing online courses to guide online course design, refresh, and online faculty development activities to support RSI compliance.
  2. OSCQR standards can be used by online faculty and instructional designers in faculty self-assessments, faculty training activities, resource materials, course reviews reviews, as recommendations and standards to support and document how the online course meets the RSI requirements.

Over all, it is important to keep in mind that the main purpose of the RSI regulation is to differentiate between distance and correspondence courses for financial aid purposes. Even without any changes to OSCQR, a SUNY course with a good online instructional designer and conscientious online instructor would be able to document and demonstrate RSI compliance.

By updating OSCQR with the RSI lens, we are just trying to make that a little clearer and easier.


Informational Webinar Recordings
For more information:
Regular & Substantive Interaction

Regular & Substantive Interaction

New federal US Department of Education (DoE) regulatory definitions of distance education require that institutions ensure regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between a student and an instructor(s).*

RSI Dashboard illustration
RSI Dashboard Illustration**

RSI compliance is the legal federal requirement that distinguishes the status of courses between distance education and correspondence courses. Correspondence courses are not eligible for financial aid. Institutions risk losing access to student financial aid if the institution is audited by the US Department of Education’s (DoE) Office of Inspector General, or as part of a periodic Departmental financial aid program review, and found to be out of compliance. Institutions may be required to repay financial aid associated with the correspondence courses and students. Regulations related to RSI have not been waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compliance with the US DoE regulations

New Regulations for Distance Education and Innovation (go into effect July 1, 2021)***

Regulations

Current

As of July 1st, 2021

Interaction Only initiated by the instructor Mostly instructor initiated, some leeway
Instructor Meets accreditation standards Explicit reliance on accreditor approval
Substantive
Of an academic nature Has a list of activities (instruction, assessment, tutoring, answering questions)
Regular Regular and somewhat substantive Predictable and scheduled and tracking and intervention

Definitions**

An instructor is an individual responsible for delivering course content and who meets the qualifications for instruction established by an institution’s accrediting agency. Eligible programs can be taught by “the instructor or instructors.

A distance education course is one in which instruction is delivered by one or more types of technology, including the internet, various wired and wireless media, or audio conference to students who are separated from the instructor(s). These technologies “support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor or instructors, either synchronously or asynchronously.

Predictable and Scheduled Interaction: Regular interaction requires an institution to ensure, prior to the student’s completion of a course or competency, that there is the opportunity for substantive interactions with the student on a predictable and scheduled basis commensurate with the length of time and the amount of content in the course or competency.

The institution also is responsible for monitoring the student’s academic engagement and success and ensuring that an instructor is responsible for promptly and proactively engaging in substantive interaction with the student when needed on the basis of such monitoring, or upon request by the student.

Academic engagement requires  active participation by a student in an instructional activity related to the student’s course of study as defined by the institution consistent with any requirements imposed by its state approval or accrediting agency. Academic engagement can include such activities as attending a class where the students and instructor can interact, turning in an academic assignment or taking a test, participating in an interactive computer-assisted instruction, participating in an institutional-directed group activity or online discussion, or interacting with the instructor regarding academic matters.

An emphasis on regular and substantive interaction is entirely consistent with well-documented research-based effective practices in online course design and delivery. In online teaching and learning environments of any kind, (asynchronous, synchronous, blended/hybrid), regular and substantive interactions must:

  • Be with an instructor as defined by the institution’s accreditor.
  • Be initiated by the instructor.
  • Be scheduled and predictable.
  • Be academic in nature and relevant to the course.
  • Substantive interaction assumes direct interaction between the learner and the instructor and requires direct instruction from the instructor including:
    • Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework.
    • Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course.
    • Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency.
    • Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.

 


Informational Webinar Recordings:
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Citations & Attributions:

*Regular and Substantive Interaction documentation taken/adapted from the WCET Policy Playbook
**The RSI graphic illustration and some content has been adapted and is used with the permission of the SUNY Online Team.
***Retrieved from Regular and Substantive Interaction: Regulatory & Pedagogical Implications presentation by WCET 


U.S. Regulations for Online Classes  & here
Community

Community

Community Resources

Join the OSCQR usergroup

Video Help: The OSCQR Rubric and Dashboard video help tutorials.


Community-generated

OSCQR video – By David Wolfe from Schenectady County Community College.


SUNY OER Services Resource

(May work best in Chrome.)


In the Classroom (ITC) Podcast with Stan Skrabut, Director for Technology Enhanced Instruction, Jamestown Community College:


Syllabus Creation Guide –  an online course creation syllabus guide and template linked to relevant OSCQR online course quality standards by Andrew Petagna, student intern, University at Albany.


Disclaimer of Endorsement and Liability
SUNY Online does not support, recommend, or endorse community-generated resources. It is our intention to provide links to these resources for informational purposes and as a courtesy. By selecting links to external web sites, you leave the SUNY Online website and are subject to the accessibility, privacy, and security policies of the owners/sponsors of the external site. Furthermore, SUNY Online does not control or guarantee the currency, accuracy, relevance, accessibility, or completeness of information found on linked, external web sites. We urge users to consult with a qualified online instructional designers and your own campus-based policies and procedures prior to using, adopting, adapting, or following any online teaching, online course design, or online instructional design suggestions.

OSCQR – Standard #43RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #43RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides learners with opportunities in course interactions to share resources and inject knowledge from diverse sources of information with guidance and/or standards from the instructor.

Review These Explanations

Teaching presence is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2000).

Inviting learners to reach out beyond a textbook or assigned readings empowers them to understand a wider scope of research and perspectives. When exposed to different information sources, learners have the opportunity to discern the integrity of those sources and (possibly) share those perceptions with each other.

By inviting learners to share resources and add to bring in outside knowledge involves higher order thinking skills, and requires analysis, reflection, and synthesis. Gioia (1987) recommends encouraging learners to become active participants in the classroom by:

  • Providing recapitulations and summaries;
  • Make observations that integrate concepts and discussions;
  • Citing relevant personal examples;
  • Asking key questions that lead to revealing discussions;
  • Engaging in devil’s advocacy; and
  • Disagreeing with the instructor in ways that promote further exploration of the issue.

These approaches, although originally posited for the traditional classroom, translate well into the online space.

Gioia (1987) also talks about giving learners time to think. In the online space, this translates into proving ample opportunities for reflection and guidance on how to bring that reflection back into online discussions, learning activities, and assignments.

References:

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Gioia, D. A. (1987). Contribution! Not participation in the OB classroom. Journal of Management Education, 11, 15-19.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustration Online courses support regular and substantive interaction by by making it clear how and when they will provide feedback on student contributions in course interactions. Instructors establish this in the design of the course by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation and self assessment, and details on how they will provide feedback, and evaluate work. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these activities, to get help or clarifications, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these activities, or to review work, assessment, or feedback demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Take a “three before me” approach requiring that all learners check at least three outside resources before approaching you to answer a question or posting in the discussion forum (and citing those resources). Resources can include other classmates!
  • Require that learners cite outside resources to support their discussion forum posts.
  • Do a “think, pair, share” activity, where learners review a problem on their own, work together to solve a problem, then report their resolution or findings with the rest of the class.
  • Assign a different learner each module to be the discussion forum scribe, and to write up a synthesized version of the conversation, along with appropriate citations to share back with the class.
  • Use blogs as a space for learners to share and comment on current events, news, or trends related to course content.
  • Have learners submit an annotated bibliography as part of a group project, then post them in the course for review.

Examples

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches to providing opportunities for learners to contribute new knowledge and related information from diverse sources in online courses.

Implement Tuning Protocol to Improve Online Discussion Peer Replies and Assignment Quality
Asynchronous discussions are often utilized in online courses and while they can be effective toward creating and sustaining a learning community, they are not effective if not optimally designed. It can sometimes be difficult for students to converse in a way in which knowledge is co-constructed, and a way in which students can constructively critique each other in order to improve assignments. (Read more …)
Student Generated Blogs for Journals and Reflection
UCF education professor Debbie Kirkley uses student blogs to fulfill the requirement of students to keep a journal throughout the semester to reflect on course projects and their experiences. (Read more …)
Use Google Educational Apps to Foster Online Collaborations
In the 21st century modern education is becoming increasingly complex due to the technological environment within which it operates. This new environment offers exciting new possibilities but also raises challenges. (Read more …)
Use Three-Before-Me as a Communication Strategy
The concept of “Three Before Me” pushes the responsibility of locating an answer to commonly asked questions to the student. The student must prove to the professor that he/she has contacted three different sources prior to contacting the professor. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Gao, F., Zhang, T., & Franklin, T. (n.d). Designing asynchronous online discussion environments: Recent progress and possible future directions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(3), 469-483.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #42

OSCQR – Standard #42

Course offers opportunities for learner to learner interaction and constructive collaboration.

Review These Explanations

Collaboration in an online course fosters constructive learning by enabling learners to be active participants, take initiative, think critically, and engage each other in dialogue. (Palloff & Prat, 2007).

By requiring learners to engage with each other, it requires them to assume more responsibility for their own learning. This often leads to a deeper level of engagement. The instructor’s role is as a facilitator, who moderates and evaluates the quality and quantity of interaction between learners.

Group and peer-review assignments can support social, teaching, and cognitive presences in the online learning environment. According to Lee and Choi (2011), the more instructors promoted interaction through collaboration, feedback, group activities, and peer scaffolding, the more likely that learners persisted and successfully completed their online studies.

Providing opportunities for learners to learn from each other is an integral part of constructive collaboration. Collaborative online learning activities can enable more advanced learners to reinforce and maximize their own abilities and understanding while helping less experienced learners to develop theirs, as they construct new knowledge together (Vygotsky, 1978). This new knowledge can then be shared and infused back into the course learning materials to scaffold other learners to construct new meaning.

References:

Lee, Y., & Choi, J. (2011). A review of online course dropout research: implications for practice and future research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59, 593-618.

Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. (2007). Building Online Learning Communities: Effective Strategies for the Virtual Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lee, J-E., Recker, M. (2021). The effects of instructors’ use of online discussions strategies on student participation and performance in university online introductory mathem.atics courses. Computers & Education, Volume 162, March 2021, 104084.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions/Resources

Examples

“Students in courses where instructors used open-ended discussion prompts and graded students’ posts had higher average final course grades…Rich discussions can enhance learners’ understanding of a topic and should be guided by the instructor.” (Lee & Recker, 2021).

  • Use online interaction/discussion strategies that have a positive impact on learner outcomes:
    • Open-ended prompting (like brainstorming questions).
    • Grading discussion posts.
    • Focused discussions, which center around one specific topic.
    • Elaborated feedback, which provide explanations, or additional resources, like hints and extra study materials,

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches to creating opportunities for learner to learner interaction and constructive collaboration to support learner success in online courses.

Facilitate Discussions to Promote Interaction and Critical Thinking
Setting up a discussion prompt is important for initial structuring, but it is crucial to facilitate during the discussion to ensure it is progressing. (Read more …)
Use Google Educational Apps to Foster Online Collaborations
In the 21st century modern education is becoming increasingly complex due to the technological environment within which it operates. This new environment offers exciting new possibilities but also raises challenges. Low cost, ubiquity, accessibility and ease of use are all potential affordances, which are making social media technologies an attractive option for transforming teaching and learning environments. (Read more …)
Use Group Discussion Strategy to Facilitate Group Work
Working in groups can be challenging if groups don’t take the time to outline each member’s strengths and potential contributions and also the guidelines for how the group will act and react to situations as the project develops. This is especially true for large-size classes. (Read more …)
Use Online Debates to Enhance Classroom Engagement
A debate is a formal competition between two teams, usually with three members each, arguing a discussion statement known as “the moot”. Shaw (2012) believes that debates stimulate critical thinking and can be a highly effective way to actively engage students in research in the online classroom. (Read more …)
Use Social Bookmarking to Organize and Share Online Resources
IDL6543 is a professional development course, designed to prepare UCF faculty for a successful online teaching experience. In the course, faculty learn about online pedagogy, online technical and logistical issues, course delivery strategies and tools used in Webcourses@UCF (learning management system). IDL offers tons of resources for faculty to use for their online teaching. The instructional designers compiled lists of resources on Diigo, a social networking site, at http://www.diigo.com/user/onlineucf . Faculty can access those updated resources not just in IDL6543, but also after completing the course. (Read more …)
Use Social Networking Tools to Facilitate Small Group Problem-Based Learning
With the rapid growth of technologies and the appearance of social media the potential of technology-supported PBL seems significant, since it can be used to enrich interactions between students and reduce the time constraints of the traditional classroom. (Read more …)
Using Voicethread for Online Debate
An online protocol callled “Prompt a Stand” was used in conjunction with Voicethread, a tool for having online discussions, in order to foster a debate on a topic. Protocols are “strategies for having structured communication to enhance problem-solving, encourage different perspectives, and build shared knowledge (Dichter & Zydney, in press). (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Bollinger, D., & Martindale, T. (2004). Key factors for determining student satisfaction in online courses. International Journal on E-Learning, 3(1), 61-67.
Khine, M. S., Yeap, L. L., & Lok, A. T. C. (2013). The quality of message ideas, thinking and interaction in an asynchronous CMC environment. Educational Media International, 40(1-2), 115-126.
Lewis, C. C., & Abdul-Hamid, H. (2006). Implementing effective online teaching practices: Voices of exemplary faculty. Innovative Higher Education, 31(2), 83-98.
Matthews, R. S.; Cooper, J.L.; Davidson, N.; Hawkes, P. Building bridges between cooperative and collaborative learning. Change, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Jul. – Aug., 1995), pp. 34-40.
Stephens, G.E., & Roberts, K.L. Facilitating Collaboration in Online Groups. Journal of Educators Online, Vol. 14, No. 1 Jan 2017.
Haythornthwaite, C. Facilitating Collaboration in Online Learning. Online Learning, [S.l.], Vol. 10, No.1, Mar. 2019.
Collaborative Learning Module from El Passo Community College.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #41RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #41RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides activities intended to build a sense of class community, support open communication, promote regular and substantive interaction, and establish trust (e.g., ice-breaking activities, Course Bulletin Board, planned Office Hours, and dedicated discussion forums).

Review These Explanations

Building a sense of community mitigates the solitude and isolation reported by online learners (Bibeau, 2001). Courses that promote class community help learning occur “in a social context” (Dewey) and mitigate the perception of a correspondence course.

Activities that build class community early on in the course typically fall into three categories:

  • Social activities which focus on self-expression.
  • Cognitive activities which focus on academic and professional goals.
  • “Getting Started” activities which familiarize learners with course materials and technology.

Each of these types of activities foster social presence, promote learner engagement and open up avenues for communication.

Social presence involves affective expression, open communication, and group cohesion. Each of these factors promote learner engagement in an online course (Annand, 2011). Affective expression manifests through the sense of belonging that learners feel after getting to know each other and form impressions in an online course. Open communication enables learners to feel comfortable participating in online conversations, and interacting with other learners. Group cohesion comes into play when learners feel comfortable disagreeing and challenging each other, and respecting opposing views while collaborating on course work (Rourke, et al., 1999).

Look for answers to these questions when developing these types of community activities:

  • Is the activity non-threatening?
  • Is it learner focused (social)?
  • It is content focused (cognitive)?
  • Does it require learners to read and respond to each other?
  • Does it encourage learners to find something in common with other learners?
  • Does it require learners to be reflective?

References:

Bibeau, S. (2001). Social Presence, Isolation, and Connectedness in Online Teaching and Learning: From the Literature to Real Life. The Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 15, 35-39.

Croft, N., Dalton, A. & Grant, M., (2010) Overcoming Isolation in Distance Learning: Building a Learning Community through Time and Space, Journal for Education in the Built Environment, 5:1, 27-64.

Annand, D. (2011). Social Presence within the Community of Inquiry Framework. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 12(5).

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books.

Rourke, L., Anderson, T. Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (1999). Assessing social presence in asynchronous, text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(3), 51-70.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustration Online courses support regular and substantive interaction by building trust, and a strong sense of online class community. While online class community and trust can be cultivated and built with the instructor and between learners in an online course in various ways, the online instructor sets the tone and gets the course off to a good start by designing online course activities and spaces that are intended to build and grow a sense of class community among all course participants, establishing expectations for open communications, and specific activities and opportunities aimed at building trust. The course is designed intentionally with clear expectations and designated areas for specific activities, interactions, and communications, and their intended purposes are clear, including who is meant to use them, and how and when they are to be used. Expectations on how the instructor will interact, guide, and provide feedback are made clear, as well as those expectations for interaction between learners. The design of the course and the instructor, as a member of the online class community, building online community and trust through regular, substantive, scheduled and predictable course facilitation, community interaction, engagement, and open communications. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor, and others in the course, can help the learner develop a sense of class community and trust, which further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on course topics, or to provide clarification, help, or feedback demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Example Ice-Breaking activities.
  • Create an Ask the Professor discussion forum, associated with course modules, topics, activities to promote direct access to the instructor.
  • Create an Ask a Question discussion forum, associated with course modules, topics, activities to provide a dedicated consistent area in the course for learners to ask questions and get clarifications and help.
  • Create a course Hallway discussion forum, a course Bulletin Board, Coffee Shop, Class Community area, or virtual meeting/chat space where learners (and the instructor) can meet informally to chat about course-related (or other) topics. This establishes a metaphorical community space “outside” the “classroom,” where learners can “stop you in the hallway” to chat (asynchronous, or synchronous).
  • Create a scheduled weekly informal Open House forum (asynchronous, or synchronous) for learners to stop by for extra help, questions, or clarifications, or just to chat.
  • Create way for learners to sign up for scheduled more formal “Office Hours” with you for extra help, questions, or clarifications, or just to chat.
  • Create an instructor profile that models the information you would like your learners to share in order to represent themselves in the course.
    • Ask learners to update and add details to their profile pages in the LMS, and be sure that you do the same.
    • Have learners create an avatar that represents them in some way, (their likes/dislikes hobbies, or interests.)

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to supporting social presence and creating a welcoming learning environment to support learner success in online courses.

Use Digital Posters for Online Community Introductions
A sense of community within a course can increase student engagement, persistence, and performance (Rovai, 2002; Vesely, Bloom, & Sherlock, 2007). In asynchronous teaching, creating community can be challenging. Instructors can facilitate a sense of community by providing ways for students to introduce themselves to each other (Woods & Ebersole, 2003). (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Jones, P., Naugle, K., & Kolloff, M. (2008). Teacher presence: Using introductory videos in hybrid and online courses. Learning Solutions.
McIntyre, C. (2004). Shared Online and Face-to-Face Pedagogies: Crossing the Brick-and-Click Divide. Educational Technology, 44(1), 61-63.
Russo, T. C., & Campbell, S. W. (2004). Perceptions of mediated presence in an asynchronous online course: Interplay of communication behaviors and medium. Distance Education, 25(2), 215 – 232.
Widmeyer, W. N. & Loy, J. W. (1988). When you’re hot, you’re hot! Warm-cold effects in first impressions of persons and teaching effectiveness. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(1), 118-121.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #40RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #40RSI Dashboard illustration

Learners have an opportunity to get to know the instructor.

Review These Explanations

Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people.’ (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001).

Social presence relies on establishing a welcoming online learning space, as well as acknowledging each individual learner as a valued member of the learning community.

When learners understand the background of their instructor, the “distance” between instructor/learners is mitigated. The tone and approach of the instructor in regard to self-introduction will serve as a model for learners. It is important that learners feel the instructor is easily accessible, and willing to communicate consistently throughout the course.

Instructors who share personal narratives make a lasting impression on online learners (Aragon, 2003). These personal narratives humanize the instructor, and provide credibility and history to support instructor expertise.

References:

Aragon, S. R. (2003). Creating Social Presence in Online Environments. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (100), 57-68.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustration In well-designed online courses, this standard can support regular and substantive interaction by building trust, and a strong sense of online class community. Getting to know instructor (as well as the other classmates) is a first step in building trust and an online class community where learners are prepared and ready to learn. Instructors set this tone and climate at the start of an online course by initially connecting with the learners and providing opportunities for course participants to engage and interact on a social and human level. By allowing learners to have the opportunity to get to know the instructor in ways that are comfortable and appropriate for their discipline and personality, instructors can engage and model behaviors and interactions that will lead to a strong sense of online class community and trust among all course participants. Introduction, ice-breaking activities and discussions that include some appropriate interactions and self disclosures can be effectively designed to support the goals of this standard and RSI. For example, instructors can share their own personal academic and professional journey as it relates to the course topic. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor can help the learner learn more about the instructor and their expectations, and demonstrates aspects of instructor role, identity, discipline, and the profession establishing community and trust, which further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on course topics, or to provide clarification, help, or feedback demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Create an instructor profile/contact, content, images/photos, announcements, instructions for activities with personal “voice” to establish the instructor’s social presence and credibility in the course.
    • Create an “All About Me” instructor welcome page with links to your professional highlights and personal interests.
  • Example Ice-Breaking activities.
  • Provide an instructor introductory video (with captioning and accompanying script for ADA compliance) is a wonderful way for learners to get to know the instructor. Create short, informal videos (with captions);

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explore methods and approaches to creating pathways where learners have opportunities to get to know the instructor in online courses.

Increasing Participation and Engagement in Student Introduction Posts Through Narrative
It can be difficult for students to connect with each other and with instructors in web-based courses. A number of strategies, design-decisions, and activities can be used to alleviate this issue (Vonderwell, 2003). One commonly used activity is the introduction post – the digital correlate of the in-class introduction. (Read more …)
Reach More Students with Targeted Office Hours
One of the biggest challenges instructors face with large class sizes is connecting with students individually. Often students will make use of office hours for that personal connection, but there are only so many hours in the day and teaching online adds another layer of complexity. (Read more …)
Welcome Messages
A welcome message to students before the course begins is an important step in establishing your online persona (Bellafiore, 2007; Gibson and Blackwell, 2005; Mensch and Ali, 2007; and Phillips, 2011). The purpose of this communication is to welcome the students, establish a comfortable class environment, introduce the class syllabus, schedule, protocols, and to/or establish a weekly routine. (Read more …)
Post an introduction video to welcome students to your course.
Creating social presence in an online course starts with the instructor. When students are provided the opportunity to get to know the instructor prior to the start of the class through a welcome video message, they are able to put a face with a name (Aragon, 2003), are more likely to participate in class (McLellan, 1999), and tend to enjoy the online learning experience more (Aragon, 2003). Though an introduction video is only the starting place for social presence, it provides students with a preview to more effective social presence strategies such as collaborative learning and course facilitation (Oyarzun, Barreto, & Conklin, 2018). (Read more…)

Explore Related Resources

Hong, W. (2008). 8 Ways to Increase Social Presence in Online Teaching. Online Classroom, 1-5.
Hong, W. (February 2010) Retrieved from 8 Ways to Increase Social Presence in Online Teaching. Faculty Focus.
Orlando, J. (2015). Methods for Welcoming Students to Your Course. Online Classroom, 15(5), 7-8.
Ryman, S., Burrell, L., Hardham, G., Richardson, B., & Ross, J. (2009). Creating and Sustaining Online Learning Communities: Designing for Transformative Learning. International Journal of Pedagogies & Learning, 5(3), 32-45.

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OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #39RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #39RSI Dashboard illustration

Expectations for all course interactions (instructor to student, student to student, student to instructor) are clearly stated and modeled in all course interaction/communication channels.

Review These Explanations

Expectations for assignments, class participation, proctoring, due dates, group work, collaboration, and attendance requirements should be clearly articulated and easy to find and understand. Adult learners expect and benefit from understanding the parameters and rationale of the learning activities in a course up front.

Outlining clear expectations for timing and frequency of interactions, activities, and assignments, as well as what type of standards should be upheld when working on particular activities, helps learners to be successful and reduces frustration caused by ambiguity. For blended courses, provide clear guidelines for synchronous (in-class) and asynchronous (online) participation.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationThis standard is the spirit of RSI. In well-designed online courses, expectations and strategies for regular and substantive instructor-student interactions are clearly stated and modeled in all course interaction/communication channels. The course information, overview, and syllabus materials set the expectations for the course interactions and communications, and make explicit who, what, how, when, where, and how often course interactions will take place. These expectations will provide details on how the online class community will function as a group and individually. Learner questions are anticipated by the instructor and addressed in Course Expectations documentation, discussion forums designed for these purposes, asynchronous activities (or synchronous options) for additional help and questions, and to create and support a common understanding across all course participants. Specific Instructor Communication Plans can be included in Course Expectations, or Course Information/Syllabus materials:

As your instructor, I plan to interact and engage with each of you on a regular basis throughout the course to support your learning by providing direct instruction via online lectures or overviews of various topics, responding to your questions, grading or providing feedback on your submitted coursework, posting weekly announcements, and engaging in the course discussion areas regarding academic course content whenever appropriate.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Clearly outline the expectations for course interactions, collaborations, assignments, activities, and discussion participation, for example, the timing and number of contributions.
    • Provide information on timing and frequency of contributions, models/examples are provided, roles are explained, expectations for community standards are explained.
  • Provide detailed information on how learner participation will be assessed, evaluated/graded.
    • Include instructions about any specific expectations if any, e.g., spelling and grammar expectations.
    • Specify and give examples of how learners should title their discussion posts. Discussion post subject lines give learners an opportunity to practice summarizing and clear communication, skills that are important in the professional world. It also helps other learners find their posts more easily because the content is summarized in the subject line.
  • Things to consider in revising your syllabus for an online course.
  • Instructor sets course expectations and tone, and provides models for the student, e.g., preferred pronouns/names and prefixes of address, formality of writing, expectations in writing communications, formality and informality in interactions, and tolerances and expectations.
  • Reference netiquette info and model respect in discussions.

Rubrics

Examples

  • Example Course Information/Syllabus statement: “As your instructor, I plan to interact and engage with each of you on a regular basis throughout the course to support your learning by providing direct instruction via online lectures or overviews of various topics, responding to your questions, grading or providing feedback on your submitted coursework, posting weekly announcements, and engaging in the course discussion areas regarding academic course content whenever appropriate.”
  • Example Course Information/Syllabus materials.
  • Example Course Expectations.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to establishing clear expectations in online discussions to benefit learner success.

Setting Discussion Expectations
Selecting an effective discussion topic is important, but does not guarantee an interactive, fruitful discussion. It is crucial for instructor to set the stage and establish clear expectations for how learners should participate in the discussion. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Kelly, R. (2012). Managing Controversy in the Online Classroom. Online Classroom, 12(3), 2-3.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.