How You Should Act, What You Say, and What You Shouldn’t Say

            Teachers approach traditional live course classes with an expectation of acceptable dialogue with students.  Certainly, this has become a more focused element over the more recent years with continual and increased disputes regarding students’ rights, human dignity, and personal embarrassment that can occur within the traditional classroom. 

As I approached my online teaching with the obvious recording of everything I communicate to my students placed in print through e-mail and text communications (or recorded in archive format if working with synchronous multimedia instruction) my direction has been to build and support the personal and professional image of my students as persons, professionals, and scholars.  I try to learn about each student as a person, a professional music educator, and musician.  I try to know their home and family situation if they wish to share this, without appearing nosy, and for my own interaction with my students this has been very valuable in the evaluations my students have written for me.

Promptness of evaluation is a vital aspect of working with online teaching situations.  Students want to know immediately how their work is to be evaluated so that they can make changes, especially when they are fulltime working music teachers with precious few hours to read assignments, and complete and develop their papers and discussions.

            With that being said, I feel that there is always a fine line to consider  “how familiar to be,”  “how much to say,” and “how much not to say.”  I have been told by many facilitators to be very brief in my comments.   My feeling has been to make sure I spend the extra time on the evaluation process and to communicate clearly and in depth.  For my own situation I have been rewarded by the response I have received from my students to my actions and my philosophy. I feel that my communications raise to a higher level the learning motivation of the students I  work with. My feeling is that from my online communications with my students, I know more about them then when working in the traditional classroom and I tend to be more individualistic in my understanding as I am constantly working with a one-on-one situation.  I have also found that I tend to remember students longer and know more about their scholastic abilities from my online instruction interactions.   Several of the comments from my student evaluations regarding my direction with our communications are noted below.


  Table 2

Student Comments

“Wow- Thank you- I have never had such quick and thorough grades and responses in any of my prior BU courses, on both assignments and discussions.  Thank you very very much!"
“Again, he would make a personal connection by emailing questions to us about information we had written.  His comments related to areas of needed improvement were critical, without being harsh. The tone of voice was always positive without the writer feeling defensive of their work. This trait had been lacking in other facilitators in the on-line program.”
“Dr. Kersten’s prompt and thorough responses to weekly assignments also make him stand out as an exceptional facilitator.  Dr. Kersten is extremely careful never to push his own viewpoint or agenda, instead his comments are directed toward helping students cultivate and comprehensively develop their ideas.  I feel that this approach helped me, more than anything else, to expand my thinking, while sharpening my focus on my final project.”


Synchronous In Action