As instructors, we are familiar with teaching presence which basically refers to the work of teaching before and during a course. I would like to share at least four ways to enhance teaching presence in the online learning environment.
Slide Shows with Audio Narration. It is boring to just read textbooks without any additional lecture notes or study guides. Recording lectures over the PowerPoint slides will not only add personalization to the presentations, but also add more detailed information to help students learn. The original graphics or bullet outlines on the slide shows may not make much sense to the students but will be more meaningful with the audio explanation of the instructor. Articulate Presenter is a tool that can well serve this purpose. The good practice is not to just read the outlines on the slides, but to explain or add more details to help your students learn.
Audio podcasts. I used Audacity to record a 3-5 minutes introduction or a summary of each chapter that students are required to read for the course. The audio podcast highlighted the important concepts or points in the chapter. I also added some soothing background music to make it sounds more pleasant and enjoyable to listen to the chapter summaries.
Screen-Capturing demonstrations. If you want to show your students how to use a learning tool such as Blackboard or a specific program such as Excel, it is good to try some screen-capturing tools such as Jing, Camtasia or Captivate. Jing is a free tool that allows the user to create 5-minute long videos. It does not have editing functions within the program itself, but it is simple and easy to use. Camtasia and Captivate are more advanced tools to capture the screens. Although you can get a 30-day free trial, it costs about three hundred bucks for a single Camtasia or Captivate license. For educational price, it will cost less.
Online Help Desk. Similar to the CyberCafe, the Online Help Desk is a place for students to ask questions related to the course you are teaching, including technical support, course logistics questions, and cognitive problems in the course. The benefit of doing this is to have students’ questions answered promptly as the instructor knows this is a place that needs to be checked daily. In addition, it encourages and promotes peer learning. In a forum like this, students can help each other and learn from each other.
I’m sure you have used some good ways in your online teaching, and you are welcome to share yours.