Teaching online seems rather anti-climactic. Normally, on the first day of class, you go in, see the students, begin the interaction. The feeling resembles that of "opening night" for a play. You prepare, then you go on.
This, on the other hand, is more of the whimper than the bang. The class begins, but you really don't do anything as the teacher. You've prepared, then you wait for the students to post. You keep preparing for future classes, but you don't quite feel like you are teaching.
For me, a big part of teaching is the performance. Performing has always been my favorite part and, I think, my strength as a teacher. History lends itself to peformance very well, in some respects, because you are trying to make a past world come alive for a modern audience who may or may not be particularly interested in the subject. You have to connect with this student audience and make the material relevant them on some level, be it as entertainment, as intellectual engagement, or context for the present.
Thus, I feel a bit handicapped in this online environment. How do I bring that performance aspect to the virtual classroom? At the moment, I'm using the blog as a model. Each week, the students have a set of readings to do, and then they have to discuss the readings online, responding to questions that I raise in my initial post. In that post, I try to give a little more information than the book provides, just as people do in blog posts where they discuss news stories. I feel almost non-intellectual in taking blogs as the model for teaching classes. Then, again, many serious scholars might think my performance approach to teaching is also non-intellectual.
Meanwhile, I await the students' posts.