First Impressions Matter
When students walk into a classroom, they usually know where the front of the class is (the projector screen gives it away). They can decide to sit at the front or the back. They know if they have a question, they can raise their hands or speak to you after class.
They see you as soon as they walk in and take in your appearance. Maybe you look serious, dressed in business attire, or more laid-back in casual dress. Perhaps you are smiling at each student as they walk in, or have your head buried in a computer. Either way, these first interactions with students are full of subconscious observations.
In an online space, there are fewer norms. Each online course can look different, and students don’t immediately get a sense of who we are or how our course is conducted. As faculty teaching online courses, it is important to create a space that is easy for students to navigate and to warmly welcome students to that space.
As a result, this module will focus on these two aspects: the course’s structure and strategies for orienting students to the learning environment.
- Explain the importance of an easy-to-navigate online learning environment.
- Evaluate an existing course website for ease of navigation.
- Formulate ideas to implement into your own course websites to improve navigation.
- Craft a communication plan to orient students to the online learning environment in a supportive way.
- Can students find their way around the course easily and intuitively?
- Are items labelled clearly so that students know what they are?
- Is course content well organized?
- Do students know how they can contact the instructor and ask questions?
- Do students know the structure of the course and how learning will take place?
- Has there been an effort to introduce students to the course in ways other than text?
- Do students have a clear understanding of your expectations for the course?
- Is there a plan in place for ongoing communication throughout the semester? Do students know how often they will hear from you?