Even though I never saw the 50 college students I taught in back-to-back sessions last summer, I feel especially close to them. Our digital relationships were just as powerful as the relationships I have with face-to-face students.
One of the ways my students became acquainted with their digital professor was through my weekly video lectures they were required to watch. The students seemed unusually comfortable in a digital world. I, on the other hand, had a difficult time adapting.
Online conversations helped students take learning to the next level
My online classes had no formal meeting times. Students were required to post daily comments on a private group Facebook page, and ask questions via email or text. Once I started responding to their posts, I began to feel a stronger connection to the students than I do in a traditional classroom.
I was checking the class Facebook page one night at 11 p.m. when a student posted a video from a Phillies game he was attending. His post showed a product featured on a billboard at the stadium. He explained that he now understood the role of sponsorships, thanks to that week’s reading assignment. I quickly responded and we had an online conversation during the 9th inning of the game I was also watching at home on ESPN. For the first time, technology enhanced my connection with a student.
The next morning, it happened again. Another student posted a photo of a retailer we were studying as she walked to her internship at 7:30 a.m. in New York City. I was online at the moment of her post. As with my baseball fan student the night before, we had a short digital conversation to confirm her observation and learning experience.
For 10 straight weeks last summer, I was able to communicate with my students as they experienced our course material in their everyday lives. It added an enormous sense of authenticity and connection to the learning process.