Monday, February 14, 2011

Instructor presence more than you thought

Last week I attended a planning session on our General Education program. At one point a discussion centered on the fact that many of our general education courses are offered in 200 seat lecture halls.

Several methods were offered to improve student engagement, but the one that surprised me was team-teaching. That not only included the obvious gen-ed value of finding cross disciplinary connections to content, but emphasized the value of having more than one faculty member present.

What surprised me was the value that having a faculty member out in the audience with the students gave the students was the feeling of connection and interaction with the instructors they didn't get with a single sage on the stage.

In on-line education we constantly harp on the need for "instructor presence" so the student doesn't feel like they're taking the course from a disembodied program. It's interesting to see that this is a issue in face to face courses too.