Communication in Online Classes

The following recommendations have been collected from ECU instructors with years of experience teaching online classes.

General Recommendations

It’s a good idea to make it clear to students how you will be communicating with them at the outset of the course. If they know you’ll be communicating important information about the course through forum posts, they’ll be more likely to check them frequently.

It’s also helpful for your workload to manage student expectations about when and how often you will be communicating with them through the Moode site. It helps students engage with the course site if they know approximately when to expect announcements or updates.

Start of Term Message

It is helpful to contact your full class via email a few days prior to your course start date to let them know when and how to access the course site.

This email template is one you can use or adapt for your particular course needs.

It is also helpful to survey your students to find out where in the world they are (useful for scheduling classes in real-time), what their technology capabilities are, and what access they may have to resources important to your class. Surveys can be created in Moodle or using Google forms (for anonymous surveys).

Emailing your class

You can email students in your class directly from Moodle in two ways:

1) through your Participants list you can select to send a message to all or selected students in your class; or

2) through the Quickmail feature at the bottom of your right-hand menu, which allows you to include attachments.

Centralize communication

Establish a communication ‘hub’ in the first section(s) of the Moodle page to announce special instructions, new notices, house all key docs, general introduction on the course etc. Inform students at the start of the course where and how you will communicate new updates within Moodle to ensure everyone is on the same page and so you can confirm that all students have access to this general information.

Some instructors go so far as to not answer any content questions about the class via email, directing students to post questions in a central forum instead so that all students can read the answers!

Notify students of changes to the course on Moodle

It is best practice to post changes in multiple places, for example

1) describe changes in the first section of your Moodle page;

2) repeat instructions in the description of the week when changes take effect; and

3) email the whole group (with course name and number in the subject line).

These multiple modes of communication also work to ensure all students have up-to-date information about the course.

Managing/reducing the flood of emails from forums

It is not always necessary to have all posts within forums also be forwarded to everyone’s email. You can check your Forum settings under “subscription and tracking” and set to “disabled” if you don’t want the post to be emailed to everyone. Alternatively, some students like the frequent reminders to draw them back to the course when something changes. Encourage students to set their own preferences.