Each person is given a name that follows them through their lifetime. Our names are unique, chosen carefully by our loved ones, and acts to separate us from others. Our names identify us as one human being among the 7.9 billion other human beings in this world (WorldOMeters, 2022).
The name given to us may be an old family name, a modern name, a popular name is a twist on its spelling, or a name that was from a person who was special. Our name will be on lists for the rest of our lives. Our names will be alphabetized, randomized, italicized, mispronounced, misspelled, called out when we are lost, and written on our tombstones when we pass. We are one of many, but no one is just a name.
As the world entered the pandemic of 2020, the academic arena of higher education turned to alternative, teaching platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic forced academics to switch to online teaching whether they were prepared or not. “The speed and enthusiasm with which educators embraced online teaching suggest that the challenge changed their perspective for the better (Gopalan, 2021). As a nurse educator, I have instructed nursing students both online and in the classroom for over ten years. I taught online when online wasn’t cool. Teaching asynchronously is its own beast and requires more time to create, to prepare, to evaluate and to connect with students. My personal belief is that the latter is one of the most overlooked factors when teaching online.
Years of evaluation reviews and information gathering has allowed me to create a list of strategies that have worked to increase engagement in the online classroom. With the goal of keeping your students engaged, it’s important to make the coursework meaningful to their clinical practice, recognize the unique gifts of each student on the roster, and to foster a relationship with each individual student in the class. It begins recognizing that a student is not just a name on the roster. Get to know them.