There is a misconception that the online environment replaces the instructor. For online learning, the role of the instructor is pivotal and can be the single largest influencer of learning and the learner experience; learning online does not mean learning in isolation. Actively support your learners by guiding the learning process, encouraging interaction, and prompting reflection.
One of the first ways to set up learners for success is to create a welcome letter or video for the course. This will help the learners make an initial connection with you. This letter or video should summarize the course and the associated learning goals along with providing the ways that they can reach you. Make sure to include any scheduled synchronous events they need to plan to attend.
In order for a community to emerge within the online environment and to build trust, learners must feel your presence throughout the course. Regularly communicate to your learners about the status of their performance by providing opportunities for both individual and group feedback.
Connect with Learners
Create a discussion forum that provides a venue for learners to get to know you and each other. This is also an excellent way for you to model desired behavior in the forum. The interactions you initiate will be mostly related to the subject matter you are teaching, but make sure they feel personal and conversational.
Be present in the learning experience by actively leading, nurturing, curating, and stimulating the learning at both the course and individual level. If you build learning communities and activities that involve dialogue, consistently participate in the process.