Fostering Personal Connections for a Better Online Learning Environment

Before her online courses begin, Susanne Chuku, assistant professor of economics at Westfield State University, sends each of her students a personal welcome email. “I like to write their names so they know that I took the time to email them personally rather than send a single email addressed to all of them.” It sets a welcoming tone in which students—typically half of them—feel comfortable enough to share additional information about themselves, including, often their struggles with the subject matter. “This is my first step in getting to know them. It’s the first opportunity they have to talk to me, and I feel it lowers the barrier between the instructor and the students.

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