Apr 06
Best Practices for Communicating with Students

It's been a few weeks now that we've been teaching in alternative delivery mode and I'm wondering what it must be like on the students' side of the desk, as it were. For example, I've heard that some have been overwhelmed by the volume of emails and other modes of communication they've received from their instructors.

Cordt Euler.JPGCordt Euler, Communication instructor, has streamlined his approach in order to address the “information overload" his students complained to him about.

“I sent out one email early on asking about technology challenges they might be having, but since then I've set up a discussion board in LEARN that they can post general questions to. The benefit is that the students see what each other is posting, and everyone can read my responses. It's more efficient than individual emails coming in to me and me sending out multiple copies of the same answer."

What best practices have you established for communicating with your students?

  • Do you check in routinely with email?  
  • Are you using LEARN in new ways?
  • Do you resort to cell phone conversations to work around low bandwidth?
  • ​What is your preferred mode of communicating – and does it match your students'? 

Please share your lessons learned and your best communication practices by adding a comment to the conversation.

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Good questions! I use Webex...

Good questions! I use Webex and email as the main modes of communication with students. I posted my Webex address in LEARN news so students can find it easily. I try to cover common questions when I have Webex sessions with students, and I record and post these so those that couldn't attend can watch them later. I also set up a Dropbox folder in LEARN with no end or due date and invited students to privately submit responses to the question, "How are you doing?". Through this method, I identified students who are struggling in different ways and I was able to refer them to appropriate college resources. Sometimes students need support beyond technical help or questions about the course content.
Picture Placeholder: Gail Horvath
  • Gail Horvath
 on 4/6/2020 10:53 AM

Great strategy Cordt! I am ...

Great strategy Cordt! I am wondering if anyone had an opportunity to listen to Cross-Country Checkup yesterday on CBC? They had a discussion about what it's like to teach and learn online.
Picture Placeholder: Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
  • Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong
 on 4/6/2020 10:55 AM

Using LEARN discussion is a...

Using LEARN discussion is a great idea.  I've also been looking at TEAMS as a way to communicate using a easy to track discussion-style thread.  I like to check in with my students and I was having problems due to the load on Webex.  It was suggested that I use the Training interface so I experimented using "Webex Training" instead of a "Webex Meeting" and actually liked some of the added features of the Training. I also find I'm using the news feed in LEARN more. Good luck on the front lines!
Picture Placeholder: Shannon Derksen
  • Shannon Derksen
 on 4/6/2020 11:11 AM

I'm teaching a course that ...

I'm teaching a course that began on March 23, so I had the opportunity to design a true online course as opposed to an "emergency remote delivery" in the middle of an existing term. One of the strategies I have used is creating an FAQ Content module. Based on teaching this course face to face in the past, I posted answers to common student questions. I hope this helps students access the help they need if they are working at different times than me. I also think that for an online course, the News feature is still very important. It creates a central place to receive updates and easily check back later.
Picture Placeholder: Janine Carmichael
  • Janine Carmichael
 on 4/6/2020 11:51 AM

What an interesting variety...

What an interesting variety of approaches! @Ruth: I missed the CBC show. What was your main take-away or two from hearing it?
Picture Placeholder: Amanda  Le Rougetel
  • Amanda Le Rougetel
 on 4/6/2020 11:52 AM

Great approach! I've strugg...

Great approach! I've struggled with using the LEARN discussion board in the past, but the climate has sure changed and it would be worthwhile to reconsider. I've heard from a number of students that they are receiving more emails than they can keep track of, and as their EAL Coach, I've tried to share email management and studying tips. Sometimes students haven't heard of having folders in their Outlook before, and that can a quick opportunity to better their workflow!
Picture Placeholder: Carleigh Nicole Friesen
  • Carleigh Nicole Friesen
 on 4/6/2020 2:03 PM

Thanks for letting us know ...

Thanks for letting us know about the Discussion boards.  We use LEARN fairly extensively, but I have not used the Discussion board feature.  I set one up last night and invited the students this morning.  I'll keep you posted as to how it goes.  Thanks again!
Picture Placeholder: Chris Harrington
  • Chris Harrington
 on 4/7/2020 12:26 PM