Helping students feel safe in your online class: Leadership strategies for online teaching

In Lead Read Today, a publication of the Fisher College of Business Leadership Initiative, Associate Professor Brian Raison writes about leadership strategies for online teaching and how instructors can help their students feel safe in their online classes:

Think back to Maslow’s pyramid of needs. From the bottom and moving upward, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Do all of our students have their physiological needs met? How has their home situation changed? Did they (or a parent or partner) lose a job? Are they worried about paying their internet service bill? How about their cell phone bill?


If (and that’s a big if) their physiological needs are mostly met, Maslow posits safety as the second-most foundational factor. Hence my question: Do our students feel safe in our online class? Will they attempt typing a response into the chat box, knowing that if it’s incorrect, everyone will see and know? Have you, as the class leader, demonstrated your own mistakes and reassured students that this is how we learn and grow?