Communicating with Students Online
In an online course, counterintuitively, you may find that you have more opportunities to communicate with your students than you do in a traditional face-to-face course. In addition to the content of your course, you are able to send direct emails, course announcements, social media updates, and post pictures and summary videos at any hour of the day.
While you should not feel compelled to be present in your course 24/7, providing frequent and varied contacts with students will increase student engagement and learning. While many students will be getting used to immediate responses to emails and text messages, it is helpful to establish guidelines for how long it is likely to take you to respond at the beginning of the course. A simple note “I will respond to all email messages within 36 hours,” or “I respond to emails Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” can go a long way toward ensuring students do not feel ignored.
Ways for ensuring effective communication with students include:
- Schedule announcements with the learning management system at the beginning of each module to announce the opening/availability of new content.
- Create a summary discussion post.
- Promptly acknowledge any technical glitches that occur (such as Blackboard outages or incorrect or broken links).
- Plan for the unexpected.
- Stick to your guidelines for providing prompt responses to student questions.
- Address areas where students are struggling and adapt content if need be.
- Provide a netiquette guide.