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This presentation discusses challenges in maintaining social interactions in a remote teaching environment and suggest strategies & tools to help teachers and students feel the warmth of a face-to-face classroom.


Maintaining social interactions in remote teaching

Frances Sinanu
Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana



I am happy to see that most are so glad because my session might not be a happy one in terms that I will leave participants wondering more about their remote teaching.


This comment reminds me of my own teaching situation.


My point here is that no matter how prepared you are with your course design, all will be useless without your students' presence. The participation on Quizziz was very low. This saddened me as I was confident when designing the course with all the apps to make the online class similar to what the offline class used to achieve. The worst part is I cannot reach out to my students to figure out why. This brings me to the issue of the importance of social interactions in remote teaching, which is the topic of my talk.


Gai Mali (2020) Participants' survey result from Creating Engaging Learning Tasks with Technology, a presentation on iTELL-British Council Webinar Season 2

I found it interesting that most teachers do not consider social interaction as an essential element in the task design.


Challenges in maintaining social interaction in remote teaching

Teachers' stories

Some stories:

  1. Teaching young learners: "Mama, Mama, I lost Ms. Martha" -- when the video is off
  2. Students do not show up for consultation via WA -- "no data package" excuse
  3. I have tried using all platforms to be available for the students, but they are still not engaged.
  4. I have to teach 6 hours for a 3.5 hours class meeting -- "it takes a longer time to explain."
  5. the asynchronous format is challenging for students due to the long delay.



My department has a weekly Teaching-Learning Empowerment for teachers to share and learn from each other.

In one of our weekly meetings, where we evaluated the online semester, I highlighted some challenges that the teachers encounter related to social interaction.

Ms. Martha is sharing her experience from her private course teaching young learners.

What are your stories?



Challenges of maintaining social interaction in remote teaching

Students' stories


I decided to ask for students' perspective on the social interaction in their online learning after one participant, Mr. Simforianus Mario Bajo, asked a question on Friday, 5 June 2020 during Session 4 ITELL Webinar Season 2.


gak bisa interaksi dengan teman2.. kaku rasanya.. kalau di kelas biasa bisa hidup rasanya.. bisa bercanda2 sedikit.. terasa takut kalau dosen marah, atau senang saat kelasnya asyik.. kalau online, terasa monoton..

Jujur saya gak punya banyak teman tapi saya suka keramaian, Ma'am😂

Meski yang lain pada sibuk sendiri pas dosenny jelasin tp sy lebi suka offline,kayak ada vibe2 kehidupan gitu ma'am

Sama kurang detail aja ma'am. Kalau di kelas kan selama 3 jam, kadang ada banyak pesan dri dosen, atau dosennya cerita. Dan ada practice trs diskusi lgsg jdi kita bisa lgsg belajar dri kontribusi teman2 lainnya.

Karna kadang kalau online jadi agak susah utk komunikasi, Ibu. Misalnya dari mahasiswanya yg sudah hubungi dosen tapi tidak ada respon, dll seperti itu Ibu. Beberapa teman mengalami ini soalnya.

di rumah banyak hal yang bisa bikin kita terganggu salah satunya hawanya jadi malas Ibu. Kl dikelas rasanya kondusif, apalagi kl bareng2 teman2 jadi lebih ada rasa pgn belajar 😁😁😁😁

These verbatim comments were taken from the WhatsApp chat group with Warung Prancis UKSW volunteers. The volunteers are students majoring in English and Economics.


Social Interaction in Online Teaching

Educational Experience


  1. learner-self interaction (e.g., using a assignment completion tracking feature)
  2. learner-interface interaction (e.g., following course management system announcements),
  3. learner-content interaction (e.g. viewing a multimedia presentation)
  4. learner-instructor/learner interaction (e.g., using the discussion board and email).

Wei, H. C., Peng, H., & Chou, C. (2014). Effects of college students’ perception and actual use of a course-management system on their learning achievement. Computers & Education, 83(1), 10-21.

Kind of interactions in an online classroom

The researchers found that learner-instructor/learner interaction was the most consistent factor influencing learners' performance in the discussion forum, group project, and final exam.

"Social presence is the extent to which the learner has a developed sense of belonging to a collective group or community with fellow students on the same course.

In the context of a transition from face-to-face to remote learning, the challenge is, of course, maintaining rather than establishing the sense of community.

The effective remote teacher must intentionally promote this sense of community."



Some strategies to maintain Social Interaction in Remote Teaching



These strategies are related to the online teaching in the context of a purely online class that is designed and offered online before the covid19 pandemic (for example, the MOOCs). However, I found it is still relevant to our current online teaching situation (which is emergency online teaching where teachers are forced to instantly transfer everything from a face-to-face context to an online setting)

1. Sharing of Personal Stories and Experiences

    1. The icebreaker/creating classroom community.
    2. Posting/Blogging Posting/Blogging
    3. Office hours

Garrison, D. R., and T. Anderson. 2003. E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. New York: Routledge Falmer

2. Frequent Feedback

    1. The weekly email
    2. Office hours
    3. Require each student to contact you at least once during the course.

Garrison, D. R., and T. Anderson. 2003. E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. New York: Routledge Falmer

3. Continuous Conversation

    1. Ask a Trivia question related to a concept to get students engaged (ts) (ss) (sc)
    2. Including opportunities for collaboration
    3. Offer a poll where you ask students’ opinions on something related to the course/topic

Garrison, D. R., and T. Anderson. 2003. E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. New York: Routledge Falmer


Some tools to maintain Social Interaction in Remote Teaching

Teachers' stories


These are examples that some of my colleagues and I are doing in each of our online at the English Education Department, Satya Wacana Christian University.

In my talk, I invited participants to share what they did in their teaching context to deal with the challenges they had identified earlier. The padlet is available at bit.ly/flswebinar2.


  1. WhatsApp Group for teaching and online discussion
  2. WhatsApp Group to talk about problems in an online class (not related to the materials)
  3. WhatsApp personal call for individual consultation

Trimakasih juga ma'am sudah mau tanyakan kabar kami. Sangat berarti ma'am buat saya.


  1. Distance/Mood Check-in & Check-out with emoticons or pictures or bitmoji to make the students feel more relaxed
  2. The data can help you to be connected to your students and to relate the lesson with the students' current situation.


  1. Like Google Form, you can include comments, and when conducted in real-time, you can see your students typing their responses.
  2. Use videos or pictures to show the human side of the class.


  1. Similar to Whatsapp but in a more controlled environment using their uni email address.
  2. Thread feature that helps the students to follow the discussion
  3. Video call if necessary
  4. Online/active indicator


As an alternative to WhatsApp, some teachers at my department use Google Chat.

Google chat allows teachers to access using their university email and at particular times only.

This is to take care of the teachers' wellbeing so as not to be overwhelmed with students' messages, which can be 24/7.



Teachers can create several threads to make it easy for students to follow the conversatio

Teachers can see if the students are active (online) which can be the attendance list.

Teachers can chat each student personally and can also video call the student if needed.

Teachers can create a group and invite students based on their students email addresses.


  1. Using Facebook Group
  2. Messaging feature
  3. Watch Party and comments -- mimic f2f classroom setting where there is a class discussion after watching a movie.
  4. Students are familiar with Facebook

What tools do you use to interact with your students, and how?



In my talk, I invited participants to share what they did in their teaching context to deal with the challenges they had identified earlier. The padlet is available at bit.ly/flswebinar2.

Maintaining social interactions in remote teaching


Finally, which tool you use and how you use it to maintain social interactions will depend entirely on your teaching context, your students, and you. Some teachers are comfortable sharing phone numbers and are connected with their students on social media. Some teachers are not. Some teachers teach only a small size class and can interact more with the students. For others, it will be impossible to contact their students one by one.

In the end, it goes back to the teachers and the students in each online class.

However, I hope this session can initiate teachers' reflection on the importance of social interactions in their remote teaching, especially during the stressful COVID19 pandemic. I also hope that the sharing of strategies and tools that my colleagues and I are using can inspire others to adopt and develop their ways of maintaining social interactions in their remote teaching.