Here’s another one of our most popular podcast episodes: Student Caring Online
Updated commentary by Daniel and David

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Golden Oldie – Replay
Podcast #45
Caring Online


Caring Online

The Online Challenge? Caring in a Different Kind of Presence.

“We worry about a loss of physical presence and all that goes with it.”

How “Student Caring” can help with online education (Courses which are 100% online).

Our Concerns:

  • Online education is education-light—there is little way of controlling or determining the quality of the instruction and learning.
  • For those concerned about the student side of the equation—whether students are doing enough work to earn the credit—this aspect of learning is still controlled by the instructor and her or his department.
  • How do I know that the person doing the work is the student—not a parent, a significant other, or a paid “for-hire” student?
  • Aren’t online classes an excellent place to hide for students uncomfortable with the course’s primary language, or the subject matter, or the physical classroom? Yes and no…and for bad and good.

How can a “Student Caring” approach affect an online class?

  • Put ground rules and expectations in place and up front. This is an act of caring.
  • Use discussion boards to build community.

We explore this topic more fully in our upcoming book: The Caring Professor: A Guide to Effective, Rewarding, and Rigorous Teaching.

Sound Bites:

  • Parents are hiring, “Students for hire,” to take college courses online for their son or daughter.
  • I have one student who spends 30 hours of work on her essays.
  • The online class environment can relieve anxiety for E.S.L. (English as a Second Language) students.
  • Online classes seem to attract folks who tend to motivate themselves.
  • When you are taking an online class, dress like you are going to an in person class.
  • We don’t want merely teach like “Chalk and Talk” in a digital environment.
  • Make sure that there are opportunities to put in a little entertainment into your lectures.
  • Get involved with those discussion groups.
  • I am seeing people who are disconnecting from Facebook.
  • Think of your online class as an opportunity for personal connection.

Professors who are often are seen by students as role models, are also models of adult thinking.



Items Mentioned in this Episode:
Why Your Opinion Matters:

Our upcoming book:The Caring Professor: A Guide to Effective, Rewarding, and Rigorous Teaching, was written with feedback from many educators and students, which was our plan all along. We began by outlining our thoughts on a series of topics, then we recorded them to share with the world. From the feedback we received, we were informed about the needs of the student caring community. We need your feedback so we may continue to fulfill our mission statement and help students, the world over.


Daniel & David



08.01.13: Alexandra Barcus, Ph.D.
• I never thought I might defend on-line education. In its present state, the quality of teaching and accountability of professor to student varies tremendously, and ways must be found–ground rules–to keep the levels up. As for credit hours, regular students often fail to show up for class. Most teachers take account of this when grading. But there is no onus upon them to do so. It would be possible for the on-line scheme to have students log in while actually working, the computer cannot simply be turned on, something relevant must be happening, and that data then turned in to the professor. The truth again is that the final grade will show who has been putting in the hours, and who has not.
The problems with plagiarism, and people taking tests for others occur in a multitude of places. This is why you have to present so much ID when taking SATs, GREs, GMATs, etc. The most likely deterrent for plagiarism is for the professor to know the main sources a student would and could access. If the teacher finds very similar ideas, worded in similar fashion, there is little question of what is happening. Also plagiarism tends to show up like a bright red flag when compared to the student’s other work. Suddenly there are no grammar errors, the vocabularly is reasonably impressive, etc.
Many of the on-line problems do have counterparts in “regular” academic settings. My fear at the moment is that students sign up to learn aparticular body of material, are not guided by hints on appropriate study methods for that class, and cannot reach their teachers except once a week.
Two other difficulties: a) the professors may or may not aim the material at the appropriate level, and b) all material covered in quizzes or tests, must have been avalable to the student before said test, and the homework questions should not include questions based on material not yet covered. These items may seem to be self-evident, but they are large scale issues–I have been watching.


  • College Student:  “Teach it all to me – TODAY!” How do we direct that in the classroom?
  • The challenge for professors is to teach all of the students in front of you. Those who are on fire to learn as well as those who have little interest. A.K.A. Professor: “Why are you taking this class?”  College Student: “I have to, it’s a requirement.”
  • College is a half marathon, not a sprint.
  • You can recognize these students and focus their energies on an individual basis to challenge them.
  • Our role as a mentor can begin to take shape with enthusiastic students.
  • We want to recognize their gifts and encourage them.



  • Sometimes these students can get on the nerves of other students. Uh oh – they’ll break the curve!
  • These students may be unintentionally disruptive by dominating the classroom. Professors need to control the classroom discussion and encourage the entire group to participate. Other students will happily sit there and zone-out while one or two others dominate the class.
  • College Student: “Hey, what about me? I’m here to learn too!”
  • College Student: “Our relationships with our peers are extremely important to us.”
  • These situations are good because they help to prepare them for workplace social dynamics.

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Professors David C. Pecoraro and Daniel de Roulet, with over 50 years of combined teaching, faculty development and administrative experience, provide professional mentoring services for professors wishing to improve in the following areas:

  • Course organization and management
  • Syllabus and lesson plan construction
  • Creating successful examinations, assignments, projects, and field trips
  • Improving instructor-student communication and rapport
  • Constructing a career plan
  • Mock job interview
  • Other areas? (Let us know.)

You E-mail us with a one page narrative of your current situation and the area(s) where you want to improve.

We’ll reply to you with a list of available dates and time for your one-hour appointment and payment information.          

  Start Step 1. 

1. You select a date and time, provide us with your contact information in the form of a telephone number or Skype account name. 2. Deposit $200. USD (One-time-flat-fee)  into our PayPal account.

1. We’ll reply to you confirming the date and time of your session and your paid fee. 2. We begin an analysis of your narrative and prepare for your mentoring session. 

We’ll telephone / Skype you at the scheduled time and conduct your session.

During this one precious hour, the two of us focus on you – your vision, your goals, and your personal and professional development. We find this most effective when it becomes a shared conversation between us.

Within 5 business days, we will E-mail you with an action plan and accompanying materials.
Available to you, is a thirty-minute followup session within 4 months from the first session. Just contact us to schedule that meeting.


Completely Confidential: We understand the personal and sensitive nature of these important areas and promise to you that we will never discuss them with anyone, ever. We retain your information only for the purposes of the above steps. When our communications are concluded, we delete all information.

David C. Pecoraro, M.F.A.
I have been a teaching college professor since 1980 and am passionate about all that I have learned about the profession of teaching, which I love. While I teach general education requirements in the arts, my department home has always been in the theatre. I teach courses in the area of design, management and production: Stage Management, Lighting Design, Introduction to Theatre, and others. I have taught at the undergraduate level at a community college and a private university and at the graduate level where I taught stage management for a large university.

I am passionate about interacting with my colleagues, globally, about the profession of teaching. Within that, of course, “Student Caring.” I have been teaching long enough to have observed how, when integrated with excellent instruction, can make all the difference in the world for the student. Within that scope, I am especially passionate about course design, in-class instruction, and the transition from college to career.

Dr. Daniel de Roulet, Ph.D.
After receiving a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Irvine in 1992, I have been a college professor and administrator, and currently teach writing and literature.  I have led revisions to general education and first-year curricula, worked with developing educational assessment plans of student learning, and received undergraduate teaching awards. I have also coordinated a writing program for at-risk students. My experience is at four-year universities, a four-year college, and at community colleges.

My desire is to bring a sense of personal care into each class I teach, helping students to become adult thinkers and to be equipped for the world after college.  Nothing is quite like participating in a student’s discovery or rediscovery of education—this, and my continued learning in a community of students, motivates me to teach.  I also realize that we college professors are often woefully unprepared for the dynamics of the classroom.  My hope is to produce work that will encourages professors to take on as a life-long project the understanding of students and how to best teach them.

Professors - David & Daniel

Prof. David C. Pecoraro ~ Dr. Daniel de Roulet

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can a colleague or colleagues join a mentoring session?
No. We want to focus on the needs of one individual at a time. Moreover, it is a good confidentiality practice, which we take very seriously. 

Can I record the mentoring session?

What languages does your mentoring services provide?
At this time, we only offer the English language. If you have a translator available to you, we can work with them.

Do you offer small group or faculty-retreat / in-service mentoring?
Yes. The sessions include:

  1. A presentation on our most the most pressing needs for professors today.
  2. Guidance on creating action plans.
  3. Post-retreat / group evaluation of action plans.
  4. Optional individual post-retreat / group progress evaluation.

Group/faculty-retreat mentoring: $750. per half-day session; travel and lodging expenses; materials cost at $20 per participant; optional progress evaluations at $100. per participant

Contact Prof. Pecoraro for information about booking a group session. E-mail:

Professional Mentoring Services for College Faculty