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The Academy asks instructors to be visibly present in their online classes six days a week.

And yet, one of the most frequent complaints from online students is that their instructor is not present. However, when the Faculty Evaluation & Coaching team investigates, we typically discover that the instructor has been present — just not in a way that students can see. That is, the instructor is present — but invisible to students.

How can you make sure your students know you're there?

(star) Post comments in public spaces (star)

  • You can work in the "All Posts" space or do your critiques from the "Assignment Grades" page.

Students can tell you've been present when they open a topic and see...

your post
in an assignment
or discussion topic

an Instructor Update
for an assignment

an alert on any student's post
that you have responded with
a comment or other feedback

an alert on an attached image
that you have marked it up with
the whiteboard or the Notes tool

Note that all these instructor actions generate notifications, so the student receives additional evidence of your presence. (Learn more about Instructor Presence.)

Posting only private grade comments gives students the impression that you're not present.

Here's what such a class looks like from the student's point-of-view.

  • When the student opens a topic and uses the "Instructor" sort, she finds no evidence of instructor participation — aside from her grade. (The "Instructor" sort brings to the top the teacher's posts and comments and other feedback.)

  • The Grades page displays only the feedback for this individual student. Grades comments are always private, so students can't see each other's feedback. 

  • Opening up the grade details makes clear that the instructor has posted private comments and nothing more for the entire module.


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