Social media surrounds us, but many feel like these online tools don’t really connect us. So how can faculty connect with their students through online media? Dr. Karen Swan kicked off the Spring Faculty Scholarship Series on February 13th with a presentation based on her most recent book, “Social Presence in Online Learning.” She will also be a facilitator at the Community for Innovative and Engaged Learning Symposium on February 15th.
Dr. Swan is the James J. Stukel Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. Swan received the Sloan Consortium for Asynchronous Learning Networks Award for “Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual” in 2006 and she is one of the most highly cited faculty at UIS.
Students in her online classes are working towards becoming school principles, among other leadership roles. To improve student learning outcomes, Dr. Swan designs her courses to create social presence. For example, she scaffolds multiple varied discussion boards to build cohesion. She also uses the journal tool to communicate one-on-one with her students. It doesn’t matter so much what the media is, but what the instructor does to build connections, since learning is social.
You can read more about Dr. Swan’s research in her book.