I’ve recently started emailing students more frequently in the online elective on community engagement I teach at the University of Newcastle. The students come from a wide variety of disciplines: since it started in 2008 there have been 1389 students from 59 different degrees. Because there is such a range of students, community engagement is not always their main interest or priority. For some students, community engagement is clearly relevant to their broader degree, but for others, the direct relevance is not always as clear.
In addition, some students select the elective because they are on placement and they appreciate the online nature of the study. All this means that it can be fairly hard to engage some students. For example, I’ve tried some optional online tutes which have only attracted 1 or 2 students out of a possible 80 or more students.
This semester I’ve been much more conscious about trying to build connections with students. In particular I’ve been emailing students to try to combat the impersonal nature of much online study. Continue reading