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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

What is ‘Swift Trust,’ and Why Do I Want it in My Classes? | Online Education - Faculty Focus

Wren Mills, assistant director for the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at Western Kentucky University reports, Due to the shift to performance-based funding in many states, colleges and universities have sharpened their focus on student retention. 

Photo: Faculty Focus
Because of this, I have sought out information about best practices in retaining students, in particular online students, to help do my fair share in this effort for the schools where I teach. While I found many articles about the importance of social presence, one of the more interesting discoveries was from a chapter in Trust in Organizations on the concept called “swift trust.” Although it is mostly put into practice and studied in workplace settings, it certainly applies to education, too.

During the first two weeks of class, most faculty work to build a learning community among their learners. Cultivating swift trust should be part of those activities, too. This might be happening serendipitously, but it is important to take a deliberate approach. Because online students do not have the same chances to make small talk before class starts and in between activities, the opportunity to get to know each other in the same ways as their brick and mortar peers do is much less likely or even non-existent. Informal and purely social interactions are hard to come by in most online courses, which erodes the chance of trust being built naturally (Carroll, 2007)...

But do we really need to help our students to trust each other in our classes? Doesn’t this just happen on its own? Nancy Settle-Murphy (2006) and her colleagues at software company FacilitatePro found that their clients identified building trust as the hardest thing groups have to do when they are first assembled. The same is often true in education.
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Source: Faculty Focus