Teaching Experiences

Teaching Experiences: The Power of having 1:1s with students at the beginning of the course


COVID has pushed all face-to-face courses to be delivered using remote online tools. This new online environment has multiple limitations for the instructor such as the human contact that a face-to-face interaction provides which generates a critical value for creating connections among the people participating in the course.

Problem and Experiment

The delivery from a previous online course was not good in my opinion. I could not connect neither generate the engagement with all students to increase the benefits that they can get from it. I was frustrated!. After having productive conversations with colleagues, I followed the advice of my colleague Ken Bauer about having 1:1 with each student at the beginning of the course. I address the next items during the 1:1:

  • Tell me more about you
  • What are your expectations about the course?
  • What is your main challenge for this course?
  • How can I help you to be succesful in the course and your master degree?


I was initially reluctant due to the time investment – 12 hours for 24 students. I have to say that the ROI from such effort was considerable good. I became aware that students valued such effort and also the investment for known their opinion, concerns, and thoughts.

In general I noticed the next benefits:

  • Better engagement with the students. Since I met each of them in a personal fashion, sharing some of his history, passions, current interests and also goals for the course.
  • A better understanding of the major concerns and expectations from the students about the course. It was clear for my what every student expected from the course.
  • An reduced student fear to interact and ask question with the instructor since we already know each other.
  • A clear picture of the student skills, current jobs, locations, and course expectations. This picture helped me to tailor the course and increase the impact.

As summary I strongly recommend this practice if you have to deliver an online course. At the end, we build bridges and connect with people beyond the course itself.

Future Exploration

I will continue having 1:1s at the beginning of the course and also having a set of open office hours for free conversations with them. I remember staying late with some of the students looking for advice, coaching or mentoring.

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