Recently I had the opportunity to attend a conference session on developing trusted relationships and it got me thinking about the importance of building trust within the online environment. A community of trust enables students to engage at a higher level to try and to fail through exploration in a safe environment and to grow through community support. In this article I’m going to highlight strategies facilitators can use to build trust creating an inclusive classroom where all students can learn engage and believe that they matter.
Students want to know what is expected. The News Forum is the default forum for general news and course announcements found in every Moodle course. Participants enrolled in your course are automatically subscribed to this forum. Use the News Forum to:
- Set forth classroom norms near the beginning of class.
- Post daily announcements to remind students of upcoming course assignments.
Students need to perceive the instructor’s presence as soon as the course begins and recognize ongoing availability. Set clear expectations for your availability and expected turn around times for grading and stick to them. Create events in the Calendar block for ongoing office hours and include grading expectations directly within each Description text area for each activity that requires manual grading.
In addition to information delivery online facilitators are active members of the learning community. As such the facilitator should participate in discussion forums offering guidance to clarify misconceptions redirect off-target thinking and keep students focused on the topic. This participation brings with it an opportunity to encourage multiple perspectives and summarize and synthesize existing threads to encourage deeper exploration.
Using the Advanced forum’s private reply feature gives you an opportunity to comment on a specific user’s post allowing only you and the user to see it. In addition when you respond privately to a forum post you constructively create support inside of the forum. Simply check the Private reply box before saving changes when replying.
When using the private reply function indicate to the student that the post is private and that the other participants in the course have no indication that a private reply was made.
In order for students to trust you they need to know who you are. Before you begin facilitating a course one of the first things you want to do is make sure that your profile is configured for your facilitation style. In addition to enabling email and selecting your preferred digest type determining your auto-subscription and forum tracking preferences and consider how you can use this Moodle feature to reveal your own story and bring your presence into the online classroom.
Arguably one of the most important responsibilities of the online or blended learning facilitator is providing personal and constructive feedback to student contributions that guides learners toward improved performance.
Sharing ideas or suggestions during the revision process is important to students’ growth. The Joule Grader allows for viewing and posting comments between the grader and learner on Assignment and Advanced forum activities. These comments display in the participants’ User report as well.
- Discuss paper ideas in the initial stages of creation using the comments area.
- Post comments about the project during the revision process.
- Leave detailed feedback about the activity submission describing the reasoning for the student’s grade.
Overall it’s important to remember that each of your students has their own story and seeing them as a whole person rather than just the student in your course attributes more trust to your character than anything else.
For more strategies surrounding effective online facilitation check out our online course offering Foundations of Moodle Course Facilitation and remember just ‘Be You’.