Be an Online Superhero: Supporting Students Online

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

Find out how we changed our classroom status from ordinary to superhero status using best practices to increase emotional presence and community online. Solve crimes committed in the classroom using tools learned to increase student retention and academic success. Join us to find your true online superhero.


Dr. Elizabeth Hennington is an assistant professor at Lubbock Christian University in the Behavioral Sciences Department. She has been developing online courses since 2008 and teaching online since 2010.

Extended Abstract

In this session participants will:

  1. Understand our university level and classroom level supports for online students.
  2. Evaluate their own engagement practices online.
  3. Share their own practices.
  4. Plan new practices for their classroom.

The Community of Inquiry model (COI; Garrison, Anderson and Archer; 2000) emphasizes three areas: cognitive presence, teacher presence and social presence. Recent arguments indicate a lack of a 4th area: emotional presence (Stenbom et al. 2014). Clevelenad-Innes and Campbell (2015) indicate that emotional presence is present in the online experience and not only integrates with the three areas defined within the COI but also establishes itself as a unique entity to influence student success.  Emotional support for students is time-consuming, frustrating for many instructors and can be termed “babysitting” for some instructors. Best practices in engagement strategies used to support academics through teacher, cognitive and social presence can each play a dual role in the emotional support of our online students contributing to academic success and long-term retention. 

Participants will evaluate their own practices for supporting the online learner to demonstrate their current standing in superhero status using the COI assessment measurement scale, Draft 14 (Arbaugh et al. 2008) modified for instructors.

Through this presentation, practices in supporting online student learning will be presented according to the crime (poor practices), the human response (adequate practices) and superhero status (best practices). Best practices discussed will include methods in instructor engagement, peer interaction and university practices. University practices include resources available to student including: online orientation, the writing center, student academic/advising support, IT support and professional development groups. Instructor engagement will include synchronous and asynchronous communication practices used to increase the human connection while student engagement will include cooperative and collaborative activities developed to increase connectedness through various settings across disciplines. Links will be available for the powerpoint and handouts.