8 Ways to Accelerate Trust in the Online Classroom

Guest Author Jenn Patrick is a 2014 Graduate of the of the Master of Arts in Training & Development Program.

Guest Author Jenn Patrick is a 2014 Graduate of the of the Master of Arts in Training & Development Program.

By Guest Author: Jenn Patrick

Recently, an interviewer asked how I build trust within my workgroup. While answering, I had one of those realizations that tend to surface at the apex of interview mania, copious research and over caffeination: I need to create trust with my students! But how do you develop trust in the often accelerated and asynchronous classroom?

With workplace trust being a popular ongoing issue, I suspected I was not the first person to ask about instructor trust in the online environment. I was correct; many researchers have written articles in the last several years regarding trust in the virtual world.

But I wanted some simple and practical behaviors that would cultivate a relationship of trust when time is short. With some online courses lasting as few as 5 weeks, trust creation must be much swifter than the old adage, “trust takes time.” And so I turned to Stephen M. Covey’s work The Speed of Trust to use as a springboard.

Swift Trust in Online Learning

Below are some suggested strategies any instructor can use to quickly build trust in the online classroom. They, in themselves, are not revelatory. Some are techniques you may already use because they are just good pedagogical practice; some are from the research; some are just extrapolations from what I read. I do, however, think they all contribute to building an environment of trust in the short time you have with your students.

  1. Keep Your Commitments – Do what you say you are going to do and within the time frame that you specify. This is usually one of the quickest ways to build trust. In fact, Sheridan and Kelly (2010) identified that keeping commitments was one of the top ten most important teacher behaviors according to online students. So that means that you really do need to check your email as often as you indicate in your syllabus!
  2. Clarify Expectations – Provide as much detail as possible so students can manage their time accordingly. Sheridan and Kelly (2010) found that half of the most important indicators of instructor presence were related to clarity of course requirements. Be specific about your expectations so they can meet them. Include rubrics and exemplars whenever possible so they can see exactly how to achieve success. Open all of the modules at the beginning of the course so they can look or work ahead. Document page numbers, not just chapters, so they can easily plan how much time they will need to read.
  3. Communicate Early, Frequently, Enthusiastically and Qualitatively – Be the first person to post in the forum and follow up regularly. Be positive and excited about the students and the topics. Present substantive responses and detailed experiences to engage students and confirm your dedication. Be the communication role model. Much of the research suggests that trust in virtual teams depends on the frequency and quality of communication (Clark, Clark, & Crossley, 2010; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999).
  4. Share Personal Stories and Experiences – Discuss your hobbies, activities, and your work background. Jarvenpaa and Leidner found that building this rapport in the beginning “appeared to foster trust” (1999). Aragon suggests that sharing your work history helps to build credibility and legitimacy, as well as letting students know that you have traveled the path they may want to pursue (2003).
  5. Provide Honest and Timely Feedback – Be honest in your assessment of the student’s performance. It takes more effort to provide constructive feedback than to award all of the points just for submission. And it takes diligence to grade the work immediately after the due date. But nothing erodes student trust faster than when they feel you aren’t putting in the same effort and care that they are.  Students prefer timely feedback so they know how to improve their next assignment before it’s due (Sheridan & Kelly, 2010).
  6. Be Diligent – Make your very best effort to do things correctly the first time. Proofread your communications. Verify the integrity of the documents that you post. Double check the students’ work and ensure you are correctly assigning points to the right students. Try to minimize the number of errors that students see. Note that I said minimize, because errors are inevitable.
  7. Right Wrongs – Admit when you are wrong and resolve it. Don’t let your ego get in the way and don’t spend time justifying why it happened. If it is a situation where you can make restitution in some way, do that as well. For example, if you accidentally provide an incomplete article for the students, give them extra time to read it once you remedy the problem.
  8. Demonstrate Respect and Show Loyalty – Speak of both individuals and groups respectfully and loyally. Don’t talk negatively with students about other instructors. Don’t speak negatively with one student about another. If one student presents a concern about another, acknowledge the concern and let them know it will be addressed, but don’t discuss it beyond the facts. Give credit where it is due by acknowledging the contributions others make.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but it does include some important highlights.

What other ways can we help build trust with our students in our online classrooms?


Aragon, S. (November 03, 2003). Creating Social Presence in Online Environments. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2003, 100, 57-68.

Clark, W. R., Clark, L. A., & Crossley, K. (2010). Developing multidimensional trust without touch in virtual teams. Marketing Management Journal, 20(1), 177-193.

Covey, S. M. (2006). The speed of trust: The one thing that changes everything. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Leidner, D. E. (December 01, 1999). Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams. Organization Science, 10, 6, 791-815.

Sheridan, K., & Kelly, M. A. (2010). The indicators of instructor presence that are important to students in online courses. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(4), 767-779.


Posted in assumptions, Coaching, E-Learning, Guest Student Post, Learning at Roosevelt, Learning Theory, Mentoring, online learning, Technology, Training, virtual classroom | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Advantages of Working for Free

Guest author Lynda Hurwitz is a 2014 graduate with a M.A. in Training and Development

Guest author Lynda Hurwitz is a 2014 graduate with a M.A. in Training and Development

Recently I listened to a podcast about a young man who had graduated from college just about the time of the market collapse in 2008.


He and his classmates could not find jobs. He was told that the best way to get
a job was to get an internship, but in his view, internships often mean menial work from 9-5. He decided that instead of starting out with an internship, he would work
for free.

At first I thought he sounded a little crazy, BUT he pointed out that working for free meant that HE got to pick the jobs! He offered his services to small companies and then larger ones and then added these experiences to his resume and portfolio. Within six months he landed a job doing what HE wanted to do.

My daughter had the same experience. She graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in graphic design and then went to work for special effects make up. (Yep, there is a school for that). As you can imagine, the competition for work is steep. Week after week, I called her and she told me about all the FREE work she was doing. (She was working a waitressing job to pay her bills and almost never slept!) I was VERY
UPSET and thought she was getting taken advantage of, (which she was and knew it, but kept “volunteering” anyway). After nearly a year of “working for free” she landed a job at Universal Studios. Would she have gotten a job there anyway? We’ll never know for sure, but one of the reasons she landed the job was because for someone with “no experience,” she had an extensive portfolio.

It made me think of my own situation. I have a lot of experience in elementary education and some limited experience in facilitation and training, but no experience as an Instructional Designer in eLearning, which is where I want to end up. So I picked up the phone and called an old acquaintance of mine who just happens to be the executive director of an education foundation and asked him if I could develop an eLearning class for him, FOR FREE, in return for letting me use the project for my portfolio and using him as a reference. He agreed.
I don’t know if the work will pay off. I guess I will find out after graduation.

I think that in most ways, working for free is very much like an internship in that it offers on-the-job training and experiential learning for those just entering the job market. I realize that some of you would consider this a luxury (after all, don’t we all have bills to pay?). I don’t think you have to do ‘free work” FULL TIME. In the T&D field, it can be done a few hours a week as freelance work. Even a little bit of work adds up over time and pumps up that ever-important portfolio.

Share your stories. What lengths have you gone to in order to land the job you wanted?


Ted Radio Hour (Producer). (2013, September 6). Is There A Better Way To Find
Work? (Audio podcast)

Posted in academic studies, Careers, E-Learning, Guest Student Post, Instructional Design, Mentoring, Social Justice, Social Justice, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Virtual Trainer: From the classroom to the virtual world

Guest Author Amy Lyons 2014 MATD graduate and currently Corporate Training Specialist at Wonderlic, Inc.

Guest Author Amy Lyons 2014 MATD graduate and currently Corporate Training Specialist at Wonderlic, Inc.

At a recent networking event, I introduced myself to another student as a Virtual Instructor. “Now that’s what I want to do,” she smiled “train from home!” The biggest misconception about Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT) is that we simply take classroom materials and put them in the online classroom.

Think back to the last time Hollywood turned a TV series into a movie. You didn’t show up at the theater and watch 120 minutes of TV episodes, did you? The creative people behind the scenes understand that movies and television are two very different delivery systems. So why do we, as trainers, take materials from a live classroom and try to push it out to a virtual classroom?

Below I’ve listed some best practices for Virtual Instructor Led Training. Try incorporating some of these into your next session.

  • ID still rules. Big blocks of text, overly complicated graphics and an abundance of images fly in the face of Cognitive Load Theory and can send your learner into sensory overload. Create a solid and consistent design that enhances the learning experience. Be creative, but not at the expense of the content.
  • Practice makes perfect. Many people underestimate the skill it takes to conduct training while clicking buttons, reading the screen and making sure everything is running smoothly. There was likely a learning curve when you began speaking in front of groups, expect the same virtually.
  • Know your tools. Many of the platforms today are filled with options to create interactivity. Options such as annotation tools, polls, breakout rooms and white boards can enhance each stage of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction. Reimagine live activities with your new tools. In a 2010 survey, VILT instructors who rated their programs very effective used more engagement tools during and after training than those rating their programs as slightly or less than effective. Used properly, they can be really effective.
  • Realize that your competition is steep and keep it moving. As I’m writing this, I have 8 programs open on my tool bar, not including the 7 unique windows open in my browser. In a live classroom, most learners won’t be rude enough to pull out their phone or computer and start doing something different (you hope). But the social stigma attached to those actions doesn’t occur in the virtual world. If you’re not keeping their attention, something else probably is.
  • Continue Learning. Our industry is filled with incredibly creative people willing to share their experiences and best practices. The folks at Mondo Learning have a great blog (blog.mondolearning.com) covering a variety of VILT topics. For great articles and a host of amazing resources, check out the website for Cindy Huggett (cindyhuggett.com). I use a couple of her checklists all the time.

What techniques have you seen used effectively in VILT? What missed the mark? Do you have your own best practices to add to the list?

General Physics Corporation and TrainingIndustry, Inc. (2010). Survey results: Delivering virtual instructor-led training (VILT). Retrieved from http://www.salt.org/weblink/industry/gp_trainingindustry_survey_results.pdf

Posted in assumptions, Careers, E-Learning, Guest Student Post, Instructional Design, Learning Theory, online learning, Technology, Training, virtual classroom | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Graduation and Spring 2015


The Graduate Program in Training and Development is proud to announce the following fall 2015 graduates:

  • Elizabeth Ball
  • Maya Beaudette
  • Diana DiMeo
  • Maxine Garcia
  • Lynda Hurwitz
  • Debra Knight
  • Amy Lyonsthefuture2014
  • Paulina Merino
  • Kellie Mount
  • Jenny Patrick
  • Courtney Paretzkin
  • Gina Passanante
  • Fraser Smith
  • Winter Viverette
  • Rhonda White
  • Kandis Williams
  • Maureen Yacovac

 Back to class

We are excited to welcome new and returning students alike to spring 2015 semester. We hope you had a wonderful holiday season. As we move ahead please keep these things in mind.

-apply for graduation by January 16th http://www.roosevelt.edu/Registrar/Graduation.aspx

-important dates for the semester such as withdraw dates, start and end dates and grade due dates http://www.roosevelt.edu/Registrar/ImportantDates.aspx.

Learning in action

It’s always interesting to see how our graduates will go on to use their master’s degrees. One fall graduate, Dr. Fraser Smith, has been applying what he learned to his role as associate professor and assistant dean at the National University of Health Sciences. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Master’s in Training and Development Program, he now has the tools he needs to make learning in the Naturopathic Medicine Program he oversees more interesting, accessible and cutting edge. Learn more about the new graduate here


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Major League Executive Coaches

major_league_logoWe all know the most famous major league coaches past and present–Phil Jackson, George Halas, and Vince Lombardi to name a few, but how do we identify top Executive Coaches? Here are several on my personal “Who’s Who in Executive Coaching” list:

First on my list is Bill Campbell, coach to many tech giants like Steve Jobs and the founders of Google and Twitter.  Watch this video and learn more about his transition from sports coaching to executive coaching.  Be sure to open the link in a new window if you are viewing this through Blackboard.

Next is Marshall Goldsmith, author of several popular books on leadership and coaching.  He has coached execs at major organizations and  has been named by The Wall Street Journal as one of thetop 10 executive educators and by Forbes as one of 5 most respected executive coaches.

Steven Berglas made a successful transition from medicine to executive coaching and has written a number of very well received books.  He has a diverse client list that includes top business execs and award-winning professional athletes, Grammy winners, Oscar winners, and internationally-ranked chess Grandmasters.

Help me extend this list by adding your top pick.  Add a comment to tell us the name of a coach–executive, life, career, or organizational–that you think has merit.  If possible, include a link to his or her website.

Posted in Careers, Coaching, Mentoring | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beyond Corporate America: Non-traditional career paths for training and development graduates

Kathleen Iverson, Roosevelt University Training and Development Department Chair

careerpathIf you visit the RU Training job board, you’ll find many opportunities for instructional designers and e learning specialists. In fact, instructional design was listed as No. 38 in
2012 in Money Magazine’s list of best jobs. Many MATD grads work for major organizations in Chicago and nationally including Allstate, Hewitt & Associates, Grainger, United Airlines, ADP, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, and McDonald’s Hamburger University, to name just a few. Historically, opportunities in large, multi-national organizations are the bread and butter career paths for learning and development. Big companies have lots of employees to train and have the financial resources to support corporate wide training and performance initiatives. But what about those who are interested in putting their T&D skills to work in the non-profit sector, academia, or even in another field or career entirely? Although it may take a bit more time and effort to uncover opportunities, the jobs are there. Start by reading a previous article, “Training and Development for Non Profits” for specific examples of our grads who are currently working in this sector.

Find your place
Where to look for those non-traditional gems of opportunity for T & D grads:

Academia: Due to the explosion of online learning in higher education, most universities have a staff of instructional designers and instructional technologists who take existing curriculum and redesign it for online delivery, much like the rush in the corporate arena to redesign traditional training for e learning delivery. Opportunity for online teachers has also grown rapidly. If you are considering a career in higher education, check out HigherEdJobs for career opportunities in online teaching and instructional design.

Association Management: Chicago and other major cities including New York and Washington D.C. are home to large, successful associations that provide education and certification to professions. Several recent graduates have been drawn to career opportunities in association management, enjoying the opportunity to design and deliver curriculum in very specialized fields including medicine, law, and actuarial science. For career opportunities specific to this field check the job board at the ASAE. 

Community Based Organizations: From grass roots organizations to churches to social service agencies, many graduates have pursued careers focused on service to others. Opportunities for instructional design and delivery are prevalent as the basis for much work in social service organizations lies in education and performance improvement. For opportunities in non profit organizations you might check NPO.net.

Right where you are: Other grads have built careers in finance, teaching, career development, coaching, consulting, even, fashion design, and have shared with us that the skills they developed in our curriculum have helped them to become better managers, leaders, supervisors, and planners. After all, good design is good design, regardless of the purpose.

Share your story
If you are a current or past student and working in or pursuing a “non traditional” ISD, training or organization development career path, please share your story with us—what led you to this career? How do you apply what you are learning or have learned in our program to your job?


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Winners and a New Name

We are thrilled to announce, Eric Hahn, TRDV student and graduate assistant, was awarded the 2014 Dr. Deborah Colky Scholarship. Dr. Michael Colky, scholarship founder and Deborah’s husband, presented Eric with the award at the CCASTD holiday and volunteer recognition party held last week. The award honors a student who has excelled at contributing to the local training and performance community.

Mary Ann Kowalczyk (Hagemann), MATD 2010, was also recognized at the party. Mary Ann was awarded 2014 Volunteer of the Year. Currently she serves as the chapter’s Director of Social Media.

While Eric and Mary Ann were surprised with awards, all guests were surprised by CCASTD President Joe Tota’s announcement. Mr. Tota was happy to share that CCASTD is now ATDChi. Following in line with the national organization, who changed its name from American Society for Training and Development to the Association for Talent Development in May 2014, the local chapter has changed to Association for Talent Development Chicago Chapter or ATDChi. For more details please visit their Website http://www.ccastd.org/CCASTD-is-now-ATDChi


2014 Dr. Deborah Colky Scholarship recipient Eric Hahn along with (from L to R) his wife Monica, Tara, and Dr. Michael Colky.

2014 Dr. Deborah Colky Scholarship recipient Eric Hahn along with (from L to R) his wife Monica, Tara, and Dr. Michael Colky.

2014 ATDChi Volunteer of the Year- Mary Ann Kowalczyk.

2014 ATDChi Volunteer of the Year- Mary Ann Kowalczyk.

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