The main player behind orchestrating online learner expectations is the course moderator or facilitator. Apart from designing instruction content and assessment items, the mentor of the course needs to fulfill several other learners’ expectations listed below.
Building trust within the learner is a primary task in an internet learning environment. As an online instructor, responding to the student enquiries should be a priority. There is a conventional 48 hour window for responding. It is recommended to reply within 24 hours. Let your learners know that you would need more time to reply back during the holidays or other events.
In short, communicate your availability with your learners. Publish your office hours in the course syllabus to avoid ambiguity.
Feedback to student assignments and grading should be completed in a timely manner. This helps develop better future assignments. In an online environment, with the lack of active dialogue similar to a physical classroom, instructor availability is critical to fulfill learner expectations.
Text-based Communication Conventions
Online communication requires detailed and descriptive language. Be prepared to use plenty of objectives to explain your point, rephrase the learner’s questions and elaborate the content. Your writing should use a tone that creates the respect and authority of an expert mentor. This enables learners to follow through tasks as required in the course. Your writing should convince the learner of your credibility and command over the subject area.
Provide Clear Guidance
Basic course rules and procedures should be very clear from the onset of the course. When instructors establish clear expectations from learners, learners are able to create better learning strategies to fulfill these expectations. Provide an estimated time needed to complete weekly readings and deadlines for assignments. This will help learners plan their learning according to their busy schedule. One important message to communicate is the course learning objectives.
Learners need to know what they will take away from the course. Topics should correspond to these objectives and should be aligned with assessments. Declare the assessments dates in advance to avoid any inconveniences.
For career or vocational courses, practical job-related goals should be tied with learning activities to convince the learner of the course value.
Share Personal Expertise
It is very crucial that the mentor shares their expertise and real-world experience with the learners. This can be done during the right teaching moments in discussion forums, group emails, team discussions and one-on-one communication.
A good way to keep students engaged and to display your experience in the field is to supplement the course’s basic content with current and external resources such as articles, websites, and videos. These help reveal core concepts in real world settings, and demonstrate the importance of your work in class.
As an online instructor, it is necessary to demonstrate the technological expertise to the learner.
This can be done by providing task management tools available online. Mastering the features and functionalities of the online learning platform is also critical in order to use multiple teaching and learning platforms. An experienced online instructor will recognize which tools should be used to enhance and advance the students’ learning experience. Share personal tricks and tips to personal knowledge management and skills with your learners. Live video sessions and chat rooms also boost credibility and respect for the mentor.
While learners embark on an unknown online journey, they have expectations from the course and the mentor. Keeping the learners’ expectations in mind when conducting an online course creates a memorable learning experience and keeps the learner engaged for more.
Originally published on: 15 Jun 2015