Fostering Presence in Virtual Courses: How to simulate engagement and energized, ‘face-to-face’ learning with students online.

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Brief Abstract

 I teach flipped, on-site courses. I love the student engagement and high energy this brings. Covid-19 halted onsite; I had no idea how to reproduce this online. I will share what I did to recreate my energized, productive classes online using ‘presence’ and new technologies; you will participate in a demonstration.

Presenters

I have been teaching in the teachnology area for over 30 years, and in the medical field for an additional 12. I have a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Nebraska - Lihcoln, and masters degrees in Computer Science (University of NE - Lincoln) and in Nursing (University of Nebraska Medical Center). I taught in the University of Nebraska College of Nursing, part of the Medical Center, for 12 years., Then I moved to the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus and taught Computer Science for 6 years. Finally, I have been in the Heider College of Business at Creighton University teaching in the Management Information Systems and Business Intelligence & Analytics Department since 1995. I currently teach visual analysis and data visualization, machine learning, app development, database management, and introduction to management information systems at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I teach both onsite and online, and have been teaching online courses since 2005.

Extended Abstract

When I teach undergraduate students, I primarily teach on-site, using a flipped methodology. They come to class having already had first contact with new concepts through readings and/or  videos. Class time is used to basically work on homework with a partner or team. The idea is that the homework is the hard part, so work on it in class with the other students and the teacher available for help rather than on your own outside of class. In my experience, students are highly motivated to complete the work during the class period so they don’t have to work on it by themselves outside of class. As a result, everyone is very focused and on task. I have used this approach for over five years with great success. I love the engagement, level of energy in the room and the high activity level that this approach brings.

However, Covid-19 brought an abrupt halt to my approach. Like many, I was told to take all my classes online within one week. No matter what. While I have almost fifteen years of experience teaching online, I was at a dead end; I had no idea how to reproduce this dynamic type of actively engaged students online. However, after much trial and error, I found a way to do it. It involved applying the construct of ‘presence’ along with some very new technologies.

In this session I will report on and demonstrate what I developed and used to re-create online  my energized, productive student classroom experience.  I found it very reminiscent of face-to-face flipped learning environments. The goal of this session is to share how I employed a synchronous virtual environment based on the psychological construct of presence to enhance student teamwork, productivity, engagement, and relationship building online, all while being fun. This environment let me, as a faculty member, simulate the active learning approach I had in my on-site courses in which students were actively working in a classroom on the application of some course concepts while I circulated and facilitated their learning. Now I could circulate virtually between student groups. It also supported the students’ ability to ‘turn to’ another student or me to get help with a problem. In this way, not only was learning from me facilitated, but students became peer teachers, enhancing their own learning. It also created a culture of support, learning, and helping others for the course while moving everyone into a position of a higher level of learning through application of course content.

This approach could be used, as I used it, to work with students in groups, individually such as in office hours, to meet with teams, or to provide ways in which students can work with others on and outside of their project teams. It is a synchronous approach and is good for complex and realistic projects and work. The technologies I used are production-level, commercial products that are reliable and viable on multiple platforms. They also incorporate already known technologies such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. I will take all participants that want to play with it into the space to complete some pre-set-up tasks. Finally, I will share the observations of the students about the experience along with my suggestions for best practices.

 

Session Title:

The title of the presentation is limited to 120 characters.

Try to create something that accurately describes your intended session, which is also catchy or interesting. Consider reviewing previous Best in Track proposals. 

 

Title: Fostering Presence in Virtual Courses:  How to simulate engagement and energized, ‘face-to-face’ learning with students online.

 

Presenters and Authors:

All individuals listed on a conference proposal must have a current OLC account and their profile must be up to date. When submitting the proposal, you will select your co-presenters by using their email addresses. The system will only allow you to select individuals who have an OLC account. To make the submission process quick and easy, obtain the names and email addresses used by your collaborators prior to logging in to the system.  Note: OLC uses “Additional Authors” to indicate non-presenting contributors.

 

Speakers: Cynthia Corritore 

 

Additional Authors: 

 

Session Type, Conference Track, Institutional Level, and Audience Level

In the system, these items are dropdown menus. You will be asked to select the option that most accurately aligns with your proposal. Please access the appropriate conference site for detailed descriptions of each.

 

Session Type: Educational Session
 

Conference Track: Technology and Future Trends

 

Institutional Level: High School, Undergraduate, Training

Audience Level: All

 

 

Special Session Designation and Intended Audience

In the system, these items are check-boxes that need to be selected. You will be asked to choose the option that most accurately aligns with your proposal. Please access the appropriate conference site for detailed descriptions of each.

 

Special Session Designation: None

 

Intended Audience: All Attendees

 

Keywords:

Include relevant keywords. You may add as many unique keywords as apply. Please use commas to separate your keywords.

virtual class meetings, virtual team meetings, virtuals office horse, presence, collaboration, engagement

 

Short Abstract:

This section has a limit of 50 words. In a few short sentences describe the main idea of your intended presentation. Use active language and craft an abstract that would make you excited to attend that session (if it were accepted).

I teach flipped, on-site courses. I love the student engagement and high energy this brings. Covid-19 halted onsite; I had no idea how to reproduce this online. I will share what I did to recreate my energized, productive classes online using ‘presence’, and you will also participate in a demonstration. 

 

Extended Abstract

You will have up to 1500 words to describe your intended presentation. The extended abstract will be listed on the conference website and mobile app for attendees to review (provided your proposal is accepted.) Your extended abstract should include the following points:

  • The topic of the session and why it is relevant or important to the community.

  • Your plan for interactivity (this is often overlooked - including a strong engagement strategy is one way you can significantly raise your scores during the evaluation process.

  • What the attendees are going to learn from the presentation (the takeaways)

  • No identifiable information (Proposals should be void of information that would indicate institution, organization, or personal affiliations. Anonymity is key to ensure fairness.)

When I teach undergraduate students, I primarily teach on-site, using a flipped methodology. They come to class having already had first contact with new concepts through readings and/or  videos. Class time is used to basically work on homework with a partner or team. The idea is that the homework is the hard part, so work on it in class with the other students and the teacher available for help rather than on your own outside of class. In my experience, students are highly motivated to complete the work during the class period so they don’t have to work on it by themselves outside of class. As a result, everyone is very focused and on task. I have used this approach for over five years with great success. I love the engagement, level of energy in the room and the high activity level that this approach brings.

However, Covid-19 brought an abrupt halt to my approach. Like many, I was told to take all my classes online within one week. No matter what. While I have almost fifteen years of experience teaching online, I was at a dead end; I had no idea how to reproduce this dynamic type of actively engaged students online. However, after much trial and error, I found a way to do it. It involved applying the construct of ‘presence’ along with some very new technologies.

In this session I will report on and demonstrate what I developed and used to re-create online  my energized, productive student classroom experience.  I found it very reminiscent of face-to-face flipped learning environments. The goal of this session is to share how I employed a synchronous virtual environment based on the psychological construct of presence to enhance student teamwork, productivity, engagement, and relationship building online, all while being fun. This environment let me, as a faculty member, simulate the active learning approach I had in my on-site courses in which students were actively working in a classroom on the application of some course concepts while I circulated and facilitated their learning. Now I could circulate virtually between student groups. It also supported the students’ ability to ‘turn to’ another student or me to get help with a problem. In this way, not only was learning from me facilitated, but students became peer teachers, enhancing their own learning. It also created a culture of support, learning, and helping others for the course while moving everyone into a position of a higher level of learning through application of course content.

This approach could be used, as I used it, to work with students in groups, individually such as in office hours, to meet with teams, or to provide ways in which students can work with others on and outside of their project teams. It is a synchronous approach and is good for complex and realistic projects and work. The technologies I used are production-level, commercial products that are reliable and viable on multiple platforms. They also incorporate already known technologies such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. I will take all participants that want to play with it into the space to complete some pre-set-up tasks. Finally, I will share the observations of the students about the experience along with my suggestions for best practices.

 

List materials provided, posted on website, submitted to conference proceedings
The presentation will start with definitions and examples of the primary constructs of Presence, virtual presence, enhancing presence online, and the effect of presence on learning and productivity. Then the audience will participate in a short cohort activity in which smaller groups in the audience move into the virtual space and complete a task together without pre-planning beyond deciding where to meet.

 

Persuade proposal reviewers and attendees you are going to present something unique, valuable, and engaging.
The presentation will start with definition and examples of the primary constructs of Presence, virtual presence, enhancing presence online, and the effect of presence on learning and productivity. Then the audience will participate in a short cohort activity in which smaller groups in the audience move into the virtual space and complete a task together without pre-planning beyond deciding where to meet. 

Intended plan for audience engagement during session

I will provide handouts that are all different for each participant to pick up when they enter. Each will have a unique guest login as well as one of five tasks and a meeting location on it. At a point in the presentation, we will break out to go into the novel presence-based collaborative space, where the participants will get together and complete the task. This will reflect how I used the software (I will demonstrate two different systems) with my classes.