Personal information has a bad reputation currently. We hear those words and think of privacy concerns and social media. But the very heart of human connection is the sharing of personal information. This is how we make friends. This is how we learn.
In the online classroom, sharing of personal information is a way to develop the social presence necessary for engagment and motivation. Discussion board introductions are de rigueur. Unfortunately, the prompts for these introductions are rarely unique and students get tired of saying the same things. Faculty have their standard bios and don’t stray from them. Introductions become rote and dull.
Increasing faculty student interactions by changing the discussion prompts would help. Responding to the discussion board would encourage students to respond to others. Faculty who let a little of themselves out each week, would provide an atmosphere more like a face-to-face class.
We look at online learning through such a constructivist lens that we forget about social constructionism and how important relationships are to the learning experience. Instructors must model proper behavior and interaction online, just as they do in person.