Communicating With Students

Communicating with Your Students

When regular in-person class meetings are switched for a period to remote learning, perhaps above all else, it is important to communicate with your students. Communicating expectations and updates is crucial to providing a structure keep connected.

Choose a Central Location for Students to Refer to for Major Communications

Choose a Go-To Spot for Major Messages

While emailing students can be helpful for individual messages, posting important messages in a space like the "News" section of D2L provides a place for students to find important information without having to dig through previous emails. That may mean copying important emails into a News post or communicating with students when a new News post is made.

Create an Initial Announcement

Create an announcement that can stay on a central location for students to refer to. Rather than sending a central message only through email, include this announcement as an email and also a News item in D2L. Some points to include in a central announcement would be: 1) A concise explanation of the shift to remote teaching 2) A link to ECC’s Emergency Management page for updates. 3) Your expectations for the remote teaching setting 4) The best method and times for students to contact you 5) Contact information for students to receive technical support (d2lhelpdesk@elgin.edu).

Learn About Your Students' Access to Technology

Rather than trying a technology platform that is new to you and may be new to your students, first try to leverage what you can through ECC’s D2L system. Students will likely already be familiar with D2L and are likely to be using it in other classes during remote teaching. It can be helpful to ask students about their access to technology to help you get a sense of how much students can be expected to access. You might do this by asking students to respond to you via email (not including any other students) with the following information. In such a communication, explain that students will in no way be penalized for not having access to technology. The purpose of the questions are to help you to determine how to best support all of the students in your course.

  1. Do you have regular access to a computer with internet at home?
  2. Do you have regular access to a computer with internet at another setting such as a local library, a friend or neighbors?
  3. Do you have regular access to a smartphone with internet access?
  4. Do you have regular access to a smartphone with internet access and the ability to participate in a video chat?
  5. When you do anticipate accessing course materials, will it be through a computer or a smartphone or tablet?

Communicate Consistently and Communicate Often

To help provide structure in an otherwise unfamiliar setting and to help students feel less isolated and uncertain, communicate

  • Consistently: Try to use the same tool for communication as much as possible, such as relying primarily on all-class emails, the News feature of D2L, or posting your own regular video updates uploaded to YouTube.
  • Often: Provide communications and updates to the class by the same means and at a consistent time, such as before and after each regularly scheduled class session.

Communicate Expectations for Continued Student Participation

  • Let students know your communication strategy, your teaching plan, and how often you will be updating them.
  • Regardless of whether or not you are planning to teach asynchronously or to hold a virtual class during the regular class time, let students know when and how often you expect them to access the online platform you’re using. Do you expect students to be on the platform and engaging with the materials during the normal class time? Or are you making materials available for students to engage at different times?
  • Let students know how quickly they can expect you to respond to individual communications.
  • Communicate any changes in assignment deadlines or delivery methods and make sure that those changes are listed in a central location, such as site homepage, rather than only in a single email.
  • Similar to in-residence teaching, create and communicate clear expectations for what is effective participation in activities like online discussions, remote group work, or other activities.

NOTE: Just as the class schedule is disrupted, expect that students will have disruptions in their work and family lives that may impact class participation. Be prepared for flexibility to support students who are finding solutions to transportation, technology, illness, childcare and family care, and still trying to succeed in a disrupted course environment.