Promoting Learning: The Instructor’s Main Mission or a Secondary Duty?

As instructors, promoting learning is, or at least should be, our primary task. As an online instructor, I must enforce deadlines, respond to requests for accommodations, post announcements, provide guidance and clarity, assess student performance, provide feedback, and post grades. Instructors have a variety of duties inside and outside the classroom to meet the standards required by the university, yet our primary mission should remain ensuring that students are gaining new knowledge.
In the online classroom environment, the instructor has the opportunity to remain faceless, detached, and a distant enforcer of classroom etiquette, academic integrity, and grading standards. Such a teaching model might allow an instructor to remain employed, yet one might consider the negative effect on student engagement and motivation, communication flow, and the overall learning environment. If promoting new learning is a secondary function of being an instructor, I submit that the instructor has a misguided view of what teaching entails.
Below are a few strategies that help promote learning as our primary mission:
Allow students the opportunity to see you and get to know you. By embedding short videos in the classroom, students can put a face on you as the instructor and associate you with a real person. An introductory video of the instructor has become quite common for online classrooms, but consider including weekly videos to help clarify the weekly discussions and assignments. A 3- to 5-minute lecture regarding the weekly work expands the course shell, provides additional clarity, allows students to better understand your …