Increasing Online Faculty Virtual Presence in the E-Classroom by Exemplifying the Desired Behavior

Author Information
Dr. Jose Fierro and Dr. Sheri Litt
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Students who participate in traditional face-to-face courses have the opportunity to contribute to informal interactions with their instructors and classmates. However, these important exchanges do not always translate adequately into the virtual classroom, leaving students to feel that they are missing out on the interpersonal benefits of the traditional classroom. Although it is more difficult to engage in informal interaction in the virtual classroom, it is paramount as it contributes to overall student success. Moreover, students expect that a virtual classroom will integrate formal and informal activities where they are able to “e-see” their instructors and classmates every time they log in. In order for instructors to implement engaging informal interaction, they need to adopt virtual presence through the growth of an energetic classroom, utilizing tactics that increase and highlight their visibility in the course.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

With the development of highly interactive technologies, increasing an instructor's virtual presence in the classroom is possible.  This paper describes how two distance learning administrators’ motivated and encouraged remote faculty to leave behind the impersonal virtual classroom and project their presence into every "corner" of the classroom. In the short term this initiative produced the following improvements: 1) increased communication (informal and formal) between distance faculty and their deans, 2) increased media content in course shells, and 3) increased participation of distance faculty in curriculum and course development.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 


            Overall student-Instructor interaction in the classroom has increased. Preliminary data collected from the end-of-course survey suggest that students enjoy having a professor who is “present” in the e-classroom. As the Academic Deans review  evaluations' comments, such as “ I really feel that I know professor R….,” “ I never had an instructor who participated so frequently in the discussion board,” and other similar comments are becoming quite common. In addition, the number of student complaints stating a lack of instructor communication have decreased over 50% during the last two semesters. An additional benefit of this effort has been the level of responsiveness and involvement of faculty in college-related activities. Modeling behaviors and keeping all participants involved and accountable in any process has a definite effect on the outcome of the process. After speaking with a few faculty members about the different methods of communications employed by Open Campus, they noted that the administration is very involved in leading and supporting their faculty. Despite the positive results attained since the implementation of this communication plan, there is more work to be done. Instructor-student interaction is only one of the necessary pieces to increase student success and retention in the classroom. Therefore, the authors understand that in order to enhance the student learning experience in the classroom, other areas of online learning need to be evaluated and modified accordingly. In the future, the academic division at Florida State College Open Campus will be exploring different approaches to instructional design that have a greater level of student-instructor interaction and curriculum alignment.



How does this practice relate to pillars?: 
Student satisfaction - faculty collaboration and feedback
Faculty satisfaction - Faculty administration interactions
Learning effectiveness - faculty are more involved with the course design process, student feedback, stronger relationships between student and instructor.


Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Access to a media center and faculty course shells.


Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 


References, supporting documents: 



Allen, I.E., Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the course: Online education in the United States, 2008. The Sloan consortium and Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved October 9th 2009 from


Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.


Boettcher, J., V. (2009). Teaching Online Tip #4: The importance of Feedback: Another Dimension of Presence.  Retrieved March 9th 2011 from


Ertmer, P. A., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., Lei, K., Mong, C. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: an exploratory study.  Journal of Peer Mediated Education, Vol 12(2) Retrieved March 9th 2011 from


Fish, W. W., Wickersham, L. E. (2009). Best practices for online instructors.  The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Vol. 10(3), pp. 279-284.


Gaytan, J., McEwen, B. C. (2007). Effective online instructional and assessment strategies.  The American Journal of Distance Education, Vol. 21(3), pp. 117-132.


Sugar, W., Martindale, T., Crowley, F., E. (2007). Online professor’s face to face teaching strategies while becoming an online instructor. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Vol. 8(4), pp. 365-385.


WPI Academic Technology Center (2007). Providing feedback in your distance learning course.  Retrieved March 9th 2011 from


Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Jose Fierro
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Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Dr. Sheri Litt
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