One of the greatest opportunities to impact student learning is through student-facilitator interactions: the ways that you reach out to and connect with your students. These interactions (which can take many forms) help build the types of presence outlined in the Community of Inquiry Framework, which are essential to learning online.

Student-facilitator interactions online can effectively build strong social, teaching, and cognitive presence and have great impact on students’ experience of your course and course outcomes. Relative to an in-person course, you may need to put in a little more thought, effort, intention, and planning to find ways to connect with your online students that feel authentic and valuable. This unit outlines

  • what student-facilitator interaction is (section 3a.),
  • the impact of student-facilitator interactions (section 3b.), and
  • practical strategies you can try out in your course to build your own presence and connection with your students (section 3c.).

Key concepts

This unit will introduce the following important topics, concepts, and strategies:

  • Student-facilitator interactions
  • Humanizing learning
  • Social learning theory
  • How student-facilitator interactions can contribute to:
    • social attention and interest
    • student mental health and well-being
    • student learning and academic outcomes and satisfaction
    • reduced attrition (drop-out)
    • academic integrity
  • Practical strategies for and examples of how to:
    • set the tone and expectations in the course
    • model engagement to bolster student engagement and learning
    • help students feel welcome and at ease in the course
    • let your personality come through, while maintaining professionalism
    • monitor student progress
    • provide student support
    • manage your time and limited resources

Unit sections

3a. What is student-facilitator interaction?

3b. What are the benefits of student-facilitator interaction?

3c. Strategies for building student-facilitator interaction

Supplementary resources