Rigor, relevance and relationships are critical components of online courses to ensure that every student has the opportunity to experience success.
The first component is to establish a positive and respectful relationship with students by following the VOCAL acronym (visible, organized, compassionate, analytics and leader by example). These characteristics of an online instructor are crucial in providing the students with a valuable online course experience.
The second component is to provide relevance in online courses. Relating the content to each participant’s world and elevating their life experience is crucial. Through relevance connections, students become problem solvers who self advocate and develop the expertise to make responsible decisions. Classroom opportunities that establish self concept, time management and organizational skills can be adapted to all life situations.
Rigor is the third element and should be viewed not only as a way to meet objectives and benchmarks but also to individualize the curriculum for each student within the institution’s guidelines. As everyone comes into the class with a different experience, facilitators need to customize the amount, structure and component of “rigor” for each student. Rigor should also be viewed from an assessment lens to ensure that students are meeting the required course objectives and benchmarks.
Relationships, relevance and rigor are innately intertwined and cannot exist in isolation. Online learning is a growing learning medium and it is our job as instructors to create a positive student experience.