The instructor knows and understands the importance of teacher-student communication, and applies this knowledge in various ways within the course.
- The instructor uses a variety of tools for contacting students;
- The instructor models and facilitates appropriate communication;
- The instructor sets clear expectations through course policies and well-written assignments with rubrics;
- The instructor provides timely and useful feedback.
I understand that teacher-student communication can help students feel more engaged with the course content and less isolated in the online environment. Just as with face-to-face courses, online courses should also involve teacher-student interaction in announcements, lectures, activities, and discussions. College instructors should also serve as “content advisors.” Through the best practices taught in the @ONE program, I feel comfortable that my online courses will meet each community college’s goal of contact frequency and quality.
Students hear from me and interact with me before and during the course. A week prior to the course beginning, I send a Welcome email. Students learn about access to my Instructor Website, tips for taking an online course, required tools, and more. I let the students know that the course will be available a few days before the semester begins so that they can go through the Course Tour and get comfortable with the course navigation. In addition to providing helpful information to get started, I also aim to establish a friendly and welcoming tone. The day the course begins, I send another Class is Open email repeating login information and other important details. The remainder of the communications are conducted within the course. When the students are in the course, they receive a weekly outline and video announcement of me giving an overview of that week’s resources and activities. Students also interact with me in our course Google group, email, collaborative projects, chatting, and video responses. Video responses are screencasts to individual students to respond to questions and provide feedback for their coursework. I respond to students and participate in discussions each week day (students have two deadlines a week to interact with each other as well). Furthermore, students read the course material that I create and compile—which also often includes screencasting with my voice-overs. My goal is for students to feel engaged with the content, engaged with me, and engaged with their fellow students.
Welcome to Class Email
A week before an online course begins, I send a Welcome to Class Email. The email contains important information about the course, as well as sets an encouraging tone.
To help students get prepared for taking an online course, I provide a website that lets them know what taking an online course from me would be like.
Class is Open Email
The day an online course officially begins, I send a Class is Open email. The email reminds students about important information and lets them know to begin exploring the course.
Weekly Outline and Video Announcement
When going through the @ONE courses myself, I realized how instructor videos not only delivered another avenue of communication, but also helped foster the feeling of “instructor presence.” So I now add brief video announcements to my weekly outlines. The following screenshot shows a Weekly Outline page with an embedded video announcement.
The following video is a weekly announcement message:
- Visit the Weekly Announcement video on YouTube
My courses involve “checking-in” with weekly conversations that count toward the final Participation grade, as well as periodic graded discussions. The following artifact shows a rubric for a graded discussion.
- Visit the Discussion Rubric
With each assessed writing assignment, I let students know what they did well and what they should work on for the next assignment. I like using the Canvas LMS because it integrates with the Crocdocs tool and allows me to easily make my comments direct on the paper while also viewing and using the rubric. The following artifact shows an essay rubric and annotated essay feedback.