Instructor Identity and Presence in Online Settings

Guess what? If you’ve already been teaching on campus for part of the term, you’ve already established an instructor identity with your students. In other words, they have a good sense of your presence in a room. Now you just need to focus on transferring it to the online setting.

If you’re coming back from spring break to a new term, and you’re starting a class that had been planned for campus delivery, you’re going to need to think about how to establish a sense of instructor identity and presence in the online setting.

Our online presence is based on a combination of where we leave our mark in an online setting and what we communicate about ourselves both directly and indirectly. It is built cumulatively, across all of our course-related communications. For example, I tend to smile a lot when I talk, and I always record course introduction videos in my online classes, which are usually asynchronous. I’ve had students tell me that they can feel my smile and hear my voice when they read my written announcements each week.

Here are some resources I pulled together a few years ago for helping new online instructors think about and establish presence:

Defining presence — a basic overview of the concept Defining Presence

Presence across different media – consideration of presence through text and video

Presence Across Different Media