The key to building connectivity with students taking classes virtually is regular and personable communication. Here are suggestions that based teaching remote classes and working with others who teach them.  

1. Post and email regular announcements with the assignments and activities for the week to help keep your students on track. Make this announcement fun and personable, so that it represents how you would interact with your students at the start of a class meeting. Consider making this announcement an impromptu video to really let your personality shine.

2. If your online course meets synchronously, encourage your students to interact with you and with each other outside of the virtual class session. One great way to do this is by adding an ‘Ask the Instructor’ discussion board forum and a ‘Water Cooler’ discussion board forum in each of your courses. 

3. Personally engage with every student in your class weekly (or every other week for large courses). This can be through substantive responses to assignments or discussion board postings, emails, or phone/video calls. Connecting with your students one-on-one matters greatly in a virtual environment. When students are not on campus, their time with you in their courses represents their primary connection to the University.  

4. Actively reach out to students who stop attending synchronous class meetings or otherwise disconnect from the course. It is easy to feel disconnected from online learning and convince yourself that no one will care if you give up. Getting students to reconnect with you and the course material may be as simple as an email or phone call asking if they are okay and offering support on how to get back on track.Advertisement

5. If a remote student needs additional help from your school’s student support services, avoid just sending the student a website or email/phone number for the department. A warm transfer where you personally introduce the student to a staff member in that department goes a long way to ensuring the student feels like an important and supported member of the university community.