Solutions Lab 18: Being Human – the power of connecting with your students online

The emergent educational research into the Covid-19 crisis shows that the strength of connections between staff and students effects everything – from to levels of engagement to learning outcomes and student satisfaction. Leading commentators agree that it doesn’t matter how good your online course materials are, what is important is the way the teacher connects individually with their students and builds strong, continuing relationships with them. This lays down a significant challenge for us as teachers to re-think our communication habits, the power relationships in our courses and how we portray ourselves to students; for many of us this is a very new and confronting space to work in.

In this session, Elizabeth Kyriakou, School of Engineering, tells the story of her own shift to online teaching in Semester 1. It is a powerful story of her journey to establish and nurture a strong sense of ‘humanness’ in her course. By relaxing some of the social barriers between students-and-teacher and redefining the ‘learning experience’, she has built an incredibly strong learning community which embraces and supports the more marginalised students. Elizabeth will describe how she has made herself more available, engineered friendship groups, opened discussions about mental health, developed fun active learning projects and brought music into the online environment to create a truly vibrant and engaged learning community . She will describe the personal journey she has been on to allow students to see her as a passionate, caring teacher with a life, family and home (no fake video backgrounds allowed!). She will reflect on the time she has invested to develop closer contact with her students, the emotional burden involved and, importantly, the joy it has brought her.

The video below is an edited version of the webinar Elizabeth conducted, make sure you watch the clip of the bridge assessment task the students put together.

Additional Resources:


  • Jesse Stommel, shares about how he enhances his teaching with Twitter. He talks about how kindness drives his pedagogy.