Delivery Approaches that Cultivate Connection

Educational technology now allows instructors to engage their students both in person and through online or blended learning. The question is: how can instructors accomplish their course objectives regardless of the delivery method? More importantly, how can instructors leverage their delivery approach to cultivate connection—both student-to-student and student-to-teacher? Below we’ll explore the opportunities for connection offered by face-to-face, online, and blended modes of instruction. 

Face-to-Face Instruction.

This delivery method has traditionally been lecture-focused, but even when the topic at hand requires a significant amount of information transfer, instructors can encourage interaction by asking more questions, providing feedback, and facilitating discussions. 

Instructors can also use subjective questionnaires to get to know their students and foster a stronger interpersonal dynamic. For instance, instructors can use clickers to poll students on their opinions on a given topic. Reviewing the results together can also be a great jumping-off point for a group discussion. To increase teacher-student connections, instructors might ask students to complete a “goal ranking and matching” sheet where students list their learning goals and rank them in order of importance. This can give instructors material to discuss with students one-on-one or in the classroom and make it clear that they are invested in students' learning goals. 

Providing consistent feedback is another way to facilitate connection. This feedback can come through instructor evaluations or peer evaluations. Rather than view this as a challenging task to rush through, both instructors and students can approach this as an opportunity to build relationships and provide support throughout the learning journey. 

Lastly, instructors can get creative with integrating group discussions into their class time. One practice is known as “Think-Pair-Share” where the instructor poses a question and students independently write down their answers. Students then pair up to share their responses, followed by a group discussion on what they learned. Methods that combine solo, small group, and large group time tend to be easier and more successful for both introverts and extroverts, helping all personality types to engage in the conversation. 

Online Learning.

How can instructors cultivate connection when they aren’t able to meet their students face-to-face? Fortunately, educational software programs provide a variety of tools to help. Classes that meet synchronously through a video-conferencing system like Zoom can still create student engagement, administer polls, and break students into pairs or groups using virtual “breakout rooms.” Instructors may need to invest more time in creating a sense of familiarity among students, since connections are less likely to happen organically. This might mean starting class with an icebreaker or using breakout room time to help students get to know each other, which can lead to easier, more fluid group discussions. 

Classes that meet asynchronously (or simply have elements that are completed outside of class time) can use discussions forums, student-recorded videos, chatrooms, and email exchanges to accomplish many of these same goals. Instructors can hold office hours via video conference and ask students to complete group projects virtually to create points of connection. 

Blended Learning.

This delivery approach combines both in-person and online elements. The benefit of this method is that instructors can determine the best use of their classroom time and what might be just as effectively accomplished in an online environment. By asking students to view recorded lectures, complete assignments, and take assessments through an education software platform, instructors can reserve in-person time for group discussions, knowledge sharing, and other meaningful opportunities for interaction. 

To learn about how our award-winning enterprise software platform, Leo, can help you deliver lessons that cultivate connection, contact us today.