Faculty Resources

Creating Instructor Presence in Online Courses

Establishing instructor presence is an important part of engaging students in online courses and encouraging student to instructor interaction.

Instructor Introduction & Course Introduction

A good start to establishing strong instructor presence in online courses is to post an Instructor Introduction at the beginning of the course. Ideally, the introduction will include your photograph or a video so that students can put a face to the interactions that will come. Tell students about your experience and include some personalizing details. Welcome them to the course and give them a few tips on how to be successful as they navigate the online environment. This Instructor Introduction explains and encourages consistent student to instructor interaction.

In a separate video, the Course Introduction, go over some of the main features of the course. Will you be using announcements or messages to reach out to students? Discuss the grading scheme, and where they can find course details – the Syllabus, for example. Explain navigation within the course. Discuss one or more of the major assignments or projects students can start thinking about.

Communication & Details

One key to success in online teaching and learning is communication. Students need clear, explicit instructions about your expectations of them, and what they can expect from you, their instructor. The Syllabus, Start Here pages, and the intro videos can include a lot of course details and expectations. Each assessment should include detailed instructions and a grading rubric. Use module pages to write information about weekly content and activities.

Anticipate Student Questions

Consider the questions students would ask you during a face-to-face classroom session. Add an FAQ page to clarify when you’re available, how students can best contact you, how soon you’ll respond if they email, text, or call you. This is a good place to state changes to policies – will you be more flexible about assignment due-dates? Will those remain the same? Are you uploading a new version of the Syllabus and/or schedule? What do you think they might ask, that you can answer here in a “Top Ten” list?


Regular announcements can also help keep students engaged and up to date in a course. When making announcements, be sure that the announcements are short and relevant. Give updates on upcoming assignments and quizzes or highlight some recent course events. Avoid just sending out announcements to ‘say hi’ to the students. Too many announcements and announcements that are not relevant might teach students to ignore them.

Discussion Boards

If you have included discussion boards in your online course, it is important to monitor activity and chime in periodically. Monitoring activity will help keep students on track and avoid any potential inappropriate communications. Additionally, students need to know that you’re consistently engaged in the course with them. You’re their guide through content and activities.

Additional ways to establish and increase instructor presence in your online course:

  • Include short videos to communicate details about content and assignments in each module
  • Short video lectures about specific topics
  • Post audio announcements, responses to discussions, or assignment explanations

Additional Resources:

Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric

Sandercock, I. (2014, October 13). The Importance of Instructor Presence in Online Courses. (link to https://teachonline.asu.edu/2014/10/important-instructor-presence-online-course/)

Kelly, R. (2017, April 4). Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom. Faculty Focus. (link to https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/creating-a-sense-of-instructor-presence-in-the-online-classroom/)