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Establishing Presence in Online Courses

  • 18 Questions Answered

Let’s Begin…

“Being there” is a critical element in online courses, but how do you do it? Teacher presence is a necessary element in creating a community of learners and increasing likelihood of student success. 

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Learn from Others:
In this module, you discovered three forms of presence (social, teaching, and cognitive). We can learn much from other universities and the best practices they have implemented. For instance, ION Online Education Resources has developed a series of articles and tutorials that cover specific elements of online education, technology, and the online environment in general as well as a catalog of instructional activities and best practices to establish presence in your online classroom.

Here are some other resources:
 - DOTS - Developing Online Teaching Skills (DOTS) - for language teachers:
 - LANguage Learning with CErtified Live Online Teachers (LANCELOT):
 - VCU CTE Online Teaching and Learning Resources:
 - Creating Instructor Presence- through announcements and messages
 - Technology That Improves Instructor Presence in Online Courses - tools for creating student community
 - The Amazing Impact of your Online Presence - consider what other information about you students and parents can find on the web
 - Teaching Digital Citizenship - the example you set is one that students will follow
 - Teaching With Technology - a wiki with many topics relevant to online teaching

Consider Best Practices:
As you work to know the needs and context for the students you’ll be teaching, you’ll also discover what approaches will make the most in your online courses. Remember, being present means more than having your contact information in the course. For a more in-depth into best practices teaching languages online, consider some of these texts:

Meskill, C. & Anthony, N. (2010). Teaching languages online. Great Britain: Multilingual Matters.
“The text introduces aspects and considerations involved in teaching fully online and blended courses. Mechanics and challenges are presented using illustrations of actual online teaching practices, practices that are continually linked to contemporary foundations of language pedagogy.”

Hockly, N. (2010) Teaching Online: Tools and Techniques, Options and Opportunities
“The authors share their wealth of experience in a fundamental area of interest to language teaching professionals today. It deals comprehensively with: - ways you should approach both online and blended courses - tools you should know about - techniques you should use for successful online teaching Teaching Online contains three distinctive parts which focus in turn on theory, practice and development: Part A gets you started and building your own online course. It is accompanied by a wide-ranging list of tools for teaching, from blogs to word clouds. Part B provides a bank of practical activities that cover the four skills, language work and evaluation, with special sections for activities to begin and finish an online course. Part C investigates avenues for your further online development, both professional and personal, with references to Web 2.0 tools that connect you with the worldwide professional community of teachers and introduces the PLN (Personal Learning Network) for your individual development.”

Online Teacher Competencies:
Not every teacher is a good candidate for teaching online. There are a number of resources to help identify key competencies, as well as readiness surveys, that can help you identify whether an instructor is likely to be successful teaching in an online platform. For instance, Penn State has a teacher profiler tool ( and SUNY has a personal review of online teacher readiness & style ( These are additional texts that may be of value:

Compton, L. K. L. (2009). Preparing language teachers to teach language online: A look at skills, roles, and responsibilities. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 22(1), 73.

The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips, by Judith Boettcher and Rita Marie Conrad.

Links to examples from the watch section of this module:
 - Netiquette Guidelines — expectations for students when participating in online discussions
 - Knowledge of Key Concepts — discussion board used to check understanding of key concepts in the lesson.
 - Community Building — discussion board used for an ice breaker activity.
 - Grading Rubric — rubric showing students how they will be graded on the discussion board.


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