Many professors make an effort to get to know their students – at least as many of them as they can. Educational research supports this effort as many studies have found that developing a personal connection with the course instructor is more influential to student success than a class with great content but a remote or unapproachable instructor. And when students rave about a wonderful class they took, they are almost always talking about the instructor more than the content.
While many techniques exist to help on-campus instructors get to know their students, it is a little more difficult with online students. One of the Blackboard tools I have found to be helpful is the student homepage. Student homepages allow students to introduce themselves, comment on their academic pursuits, hobbies, and so on. They can upload a photo and personalize the page by adding favorite web sites. Other students can visit the student homepages and discover common interests they share with their classmates, develop friendships, form study groups, or even agree to carpool to on-campus classes. I ask students – in both my online and on-campus classes – to develop their student homepages as it allows me to review them and even print them for a class record. It is an easy way for me to find out things about my students that I probably wouldn’t discover otherwise.
See the following “How-To” video if this idea interests you.