In online courses, instructors play an important role in modeling the expected and accepted forms of being. They not only set the tone for themselves but also for the learners. They demonstrate what and how to post, the desired length and content of messages, the appropriate tone and writing style, and the use of emoticons and visuals. These elements all contribute to unfolding interaction, and also relate to developing impressions about one’s identity. In online courses, instructors communicate their identities through performative acts including but not limited to their names, titles, affiliations, the tone of the course syllabus, and writing styles (voice). One of the visual identifiers that appear next to one’s name also communicates aspects of identity: a profile photo. People communicate information about themselves through their choice of images and the identity markers within the image (e.g., what you wear, where you look, what you include in and exclude off the frame, who you are with, where you are, what is in the background and how you smile). Based on these identity markers, learners form impressions about the instructor that contribute to their course related-perceptions and expectations. This presentation draws upon findings of an ongoing study and addresses the components of online profile photos and how these components facilitate instructor presence and identity online. This session may provide instructors with useful insights about profile photos. Moreover, this session may also help instructors with constructing instructor presence and identity that they wish to color using their profile photos in an online course context.
A recording of this presentation is available.
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