Faculty Presence — a FLC Faculty Challenge!

Crowd of peopleFaculty presence is crucial for both online and face-to-face courses. This topic is so important that there are many books and articles written on the subject. A book we often recommend at iTeach is Rosemary Lehman’s “Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching: How to ‘Be There’ for Distance Learners.”  In her book Ms. Lehman describes faculty presence as looking and feeling, to your students, that you are present and accessible in your course. Of course, there are many ways to accomplish this.

Recent technological advances have made video a tool often used to create a sense of presence. But there are many other tools that help us convey this same sense of being present and interested in the learner.

In this week’s Faculty Learning Corner Challenge we’d like to see what YOU are using to establish your online persona.

Please share with us something you’ve created to introduce your module, your lesson, or yourself to your students, or share with us some method that you are using to summarize a module or lesson; or share with us an example of how you establish yourself in your content with an explanation, an anecdote or somehow have inserted your faculty presence in your weekly modules. Send your example to ksbaldwin@alaska.edu where once again, we will collect examples and share. We’ll be voting for another winner at the completion of this 2 week challenge period. Submissions close Friday morning October 3, and voting will begin. Voting will close on Monday at noon October 6.

View or listen to a few examples that we’ve created along with some tutorials (or links to where you’ll find great tutorials) to use these products in case you’d like to use one of the tech tools that we’ve highlighted below. These tools are just being shown as examples, you may use a totally different technique. We’re looking forward to seeing one of your examples.

Example 1: Using a Cartoon to Create Your Persona (Click the image)

pixtonsmallerThis is an example of using a Pixton cartoon to introduce content. Following this cartoon could be a discussion or readings or activities on how to make your organization more student-user friendly. Or perhaps a discussion on the importance of your syllabus setting accurate expectations for your students.

Sitka campus has purchased a license for Pixton for faculty use. Students can use this fun cartoon creation software using the free Pixton account. If you are interested in a Pixton account, send a request to naduclos@uas.alaska.edu. (Supplies are limited.) One of the biggest differences between the free and paid account is that the shape of the characters can be modified in the paid version.

Pixton has created excellent tutorials. Each tutorial is just minutes long and really shows you exactly how to use the creation tools. Once you login to Pixton, there is a help tab with tutorials covering each of the following topics: Introduction, How it Works, Panels, Characters, Speech bubbles and text, Props, Prop sets and backgrounds, Photos and images, Voice and sound, Printing and sharing. Create an account and get started! We think you’ll find this tool easy to use and quite fun.

Example 2: Using Animated Video to Create Your Persona (Click the image)

Click image to launch Powtoon examplePowtoon is easy to use and its free. Powtoon provides you with templates to simplify the creation process. You and your students can get a free account by going to http://powtoon.com. Powtoon has many short tutorials to help you get started.

Each year Powtoon gives away a limited number of free educational accounts. This offer expires October 31st 2014 and will be valid for 1 year. Get yours now! http://www.powtoon.com/lp/toonup/



Example 3: Using Video Everywhere to Create Video Clips (Click the image)

Click image to launch videoBlackboard’s Video Everywhere enables you and your students to create quick, on-the-fly videos anywhere inside of Blackboard (announcements, content areas, discussions, blogs, wikis, gradebook). The videos are quickly uploaded to YouTube. An added bonus is that you can reuse videos that you’ve created searching your YouTube library for the right video to insert. All you need is a video camera and microphone (laptop, smart phone, ipad, tablet etc.) and a YouTube account. Click the image to view an example of Mary explaining the peer review process for ED593 students.

Blackboard Help has a video explaining this new feature. And we’ve created a step-by-step tutorial for you to help you get started.

Example 4: Using Your iPad to Create Video (or iMovie) (Click the image)

Click the image to launch the video iMovie is a powerful and simple tool to create “movies” or “trailers.” Trailers are great for shorter projects, short video clips, where you use a template to help you build your project and you don’t want to spend a lot of time creating your movie. Movies, on the other hand, empower you to create and modify and do a lot of interesting effects within your movie. You have more control and more editing power creating an iMovie, and it’s still pretty simple.

Tina has compiled a list of YouTube Tutorials for using iMovie. If you prefer step-by-step written here’s textual suport for iMovie,  This powerful, yet easy, movie creation tool will allow you to create movies throughout the semester to insert a strong sense of presence.

Remember, there are many other ways to insert yourself and provide students with a sense of presence. You could tell stories or anecdotes relating personal experiences to your topic, you could bring in weekly humor. Some faculty insert photos from trips they’ve taken. Whatever your style, whatever your tool, we would like to hear about the intentional way YOU create your online persona in your online classroom.

Email your submission for the Faculty Challenge #2 — Your Sense of Presence to Kathi at ksbaldwin@alaska.edu with a link to your example. You can include a sentence or two explaining how your submission introduced or summarized a topic, or provide other information you think we’d find helpful. Submissions for this Faculty Challenge will close on Friday morning, October 3, when the voting will open. We look forward to seeing what you are doing inside your classrooms!


Photo credit: iStockPhoto:© Robert Churchill


  1. I’m excited to report that we already have our first submission. I’ll be posting the submissions on the FLC Faculty Challenge Google Site (https://sites.google.com/a/alaska.edu/flcchallenge/sense-of-presence) as they come in. You are welcome to check them out before we post them all on the FLC for voting. Thanks Jim for being the first to send in a video. As someone mentioned to me after viewing your video– they’d much rather watch this than slog through a syllabus. 🙂


  2. Need some inspiration? Powtoon has a lot of templates for you to start with including this one (when link opens, click the play button in the lower left corner). It’s a quick, fun way to introduce students to or remind them of an assignment. Although you probably couldn’t get away with using this theme too often (might get annoying!).

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