Engaging with Students
What makes your course valuable isn't so much about the topic or information. It is about you being their guide.
Almost any information can be found these days with a quick internet search. What people are in need of is a guide who understands the bigger picture, someone who has already gone through it and can now help others navigate it.
Navigating your way through tons of online information can be daunting, and since the information is usually scattered it can be confusing on how it all fits together. That is where you come in as an instructor, a guide.
What does it mean to be a guide?
At the basic level, it means putting knowledge into context so others can understand its deeper meaning and value. How you choose to do this can vary and is up to you. (We discussed a little about this in the What Price To Charge lesson, under the Planning Your Course module)
Ways to Engage
Let's try to order this from simplest to most advanced. Depending on your experience and technical knowledge you may put these in a slightly different order. Generally speaking, the more advanced options also allow a deeper personal connection.
- Just be open and authentic in your course. Share personal stories that help put things into perspective. < We recommend this for every course, consider it a minimum requirement.
- You can engage with students through email, social chat, or other written communications.
- You can have phone calls or video conferencing sessions (Skype, Zoom, etc.).
- Schedule meetups or in-person meetings with students (when applicable). < This would probably work best with a cohort style course
Find what works for you!
The best way for you to engage with your students is the one that you are most comfortable with using.
If you choose to personally engage with your students (options 2-4 above), we recommend setting up a process to simplify and organize the scheduling and coordinating communication.
If you are having calls or video conferencing sessions, (highly recommended) provide a link so students can simply schedule a call on your calendar at a time that works for both of you. There are free tools/software out there to make this possible and easy.
Keep the options simple. Giving students 5 different ways to communicate with you can be confusing both for your students and you. Choose 1 or 2 methods of communication that work best for you. You can always make exceptions when needed, but this helps you stay organized.
Code of Conduct
It probably goes without saying, but just so everyone is on the same page...
Remember you are the mentor in your course, as such they are subconsciously absorbing your energy, your way of being. Be kind, patient, compassionate and all of the other expressions of the Highest Degree of Love.
They are seeking out the knowledge in your course for a reason, most likely because they are experiencing a pain in their life that they hope your course will help them resolve. So, even if they get frustrated and even angry, remember that they are suffering and your compassion in those moments is often what they need most. (Hopefully you will not encounter this, but it is great to have this in the back of your mind in case)