TEACHER PRESENCE AND INTERACTION ON AN ONLINE COURSE IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Sofia Sevon*, Tomi Ylkänen, Maria Åhman-Nylund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

Abstract

A drawback with online courses in higher education is the risk that students feel lost, overwhelmed or unseen and therefore lose motivation. In this paper, we present a pilot course in Swedish language on higher level, where the attempt was to find ways of making students feel included in a social context, connected to teachers and fellow students and given opportunity to inquire and express thoughts. To achieve a supportive, inspiring course environment we focused on teacher presence, versatile feedback methods and small group interaction.

The course "Svenska for arbetslivet" (Swedish for working life) was held in autumn 2018. The students had highly diverse backgrounds, regarding nationality, field of study, language skills and motivation, which naturally had to be taken into account.

Teacher presence was built in to the course design through an introductory webinar, weekly videos commenting on current activities, videos with hints and directions and live consulting sessions. Also, for giving feedback, different kinds of video tools were used, for example Screencast-o-matic and Zoom. Throughout the course, students worked in small groups. Interactivity between students was implemented by assignments where they had to cooperate and/or give each other feedback. Overall, our aim was to use assignments as close to real working life situations as possible and content-based tasks, where students could choose material from their own fields of interest.

Student course feedback was collected both during and after the course. From this feedback, we can conclude that our overall aim to make the course including and supportive for the most part succeeded. The course participants were satisfied with the course structure, content and outcome. In their comments, they stressed e.g. the joy and benefit of group work, the encouraging feedback, the value of weekly videos and the useful assignment types. On the negative side, students mostly mentioned technical difficulties.

As teachers, we found the focus on teacher presence and versatile feedback rewarding but time-consuming. The focus on content-based and interactive assignments was fruitful and could be developed further. In our opinion, building a course around student needs, interests and collaboration can be seen as an act of teacher presence, since it requires understanding and paying attention to the students, both in the course design phase and during the course. Teacher presence thus does not equal teacher centeredness. In spring 2019, we will continue evaluating the pilot course and search for solutions that can improve and develop tools and methods even further.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13TH INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGY, EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE (INTED2019)
EditorsLG Chova, AL Martinez, IC Torres
Pages3924-3929
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-09-08619-1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Technology, Education and Development Conference - Valencia, Spain
Duration: 11 Mar 201913 Mar 2019
Conference number: 13

Publication series

NameINTED Proceedings
PublisherIATED-INT ASSOC TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION & DEVELOPMENT
ISSN (Print)2340-1079

Conference

ConferenceInternational Technology, Education and Development Conference
Abbreviated titleINTED
CountrySpain
CityValencia
Period11/03/201913/03/2019

Keywords

  • teacher presence
  • multimodal feedback
  • higher education
  • content-based instruction
  • online language course
  • interaction

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