In a May 30, 2014 issue of Faculty Focus , Rob Kelly mentioned five things that online students want from their instructors. Let’s look at those five points and consider how we can integrate these concerns into our online courses:

1. Students want quick responses.

In the age of texting and twitting, students are accustomed to immediate response to their questions. But often student’s questions are because they need further clarification to know how to proceed in their course. Encourage your students to use the form of communication that works best for you to give a quick response. Texting, sending emails, or calling your mobile device are good options for quick response. Let the students know which form of communication works best for you.

2. Instructor presence is needed.

Students do want to feel connected to their instructor. Again, there are many ways to enhance the sense of connection between the instructor and the student. Creating video lectures is certainly an effective means, but personal emails, phone communication, and responding to discussion posts will all help students feel that you are around, engaged, and that you truly care for them.

3. Reminders are important.

Since our students are often working professionals, their lives are full with multiple responsibilities. We can’t assume that one form of communication will necessarily get the message across to all. Therefore, text messages, course announcements, emails, and using different colors of fonts and graphics in your online course will all help to get the message across. Plan on using multiple ways of communicating due dates and other important information to your students.

4. Easy course design.

Students want the course design to be consistent, logical, intuitive, and clear. Organizing information and lessons into folders helps. Noting on the folder what is inside makes it easier for them to search quickly. Providing links to lectures, websites, discussions, and other course content reduces the searching as well. Consider putting everything for completing a lesson into a folder.

5. Interesting and fun discussion forums.

Careful thought needs to be given to the discussion question. Is the question thought provoking and debatable? Will the students have an opinion on the topic? Will the topic encourage student to reflect and dig into the course content before posting their reply? But one more thing that keeps the discussion interesting, fun, and engaging is for you, the instructor, to get involved in the discussion as well. Your participation throughout the discussion will show them that you care, and you are engaged in the topic with them.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Are there any items that we left out that you feel are very important to online students? Let us know by commenting below.

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