Adult learners benefit from knowing there is an instructor available to provide support as needed, especially during asynchronous learning. It is important for instructors to be visible to, engaged with, and caring for adult learners throughout the learning journey to foster Safety, mitigate Adverse Experiences, and promote Social and Relationship Skills. Strong instructor presence is an important component of the learning experience that needs to be planned for and managed through critical reflection to ensure alignment between learning and teaching activities.
Use It In Your Learning Environment
Critical elements of instructor accessibility relate to how learning experiences are structured and delivered, especially in asynchronous learning. Offering office hours, live discussion groups, and text messaging or emails with the instructor can build Social Supports and increase Motivation. Learning is supported when instructors or products encourage adults to apply their life experiences to existing knowledge in their fields of study to produce new and meaningful contributions. The role of the instructor is to support and promote discourse, reflection, and a Learner Mindset.
High quality personalized feedback, structures to promote peer review, and critical thinking based discussions support and are supported by instructor presence. For online instructors, it's essential to focus on the learner-centered nature of engagement that considers a collaborative approach to online learning. Instructor presence can be fostered through a combination of instructional design and delivery methods using elements such as videos, photos, and narratives. Designing online instruction that provides instructor presence includes having a video-based instructor-led introduction to the course, an interactive syllabus, instructor participation in discussion forums, providing timely responses to learners' questions, and designing synchronous sessions for interactive learning opportunities. Important to note, instructors should monitor their discussion rates in forums for consistency across learners to minimize potential bias.