Internal - Faculty & Staff

Online Communication

Students need to feel connected to their instructor and fellow students. Create ways to bring your students together with online communication.  Students can get frustrated by collaboration projects, but the more your assignments encourage effective collaboration using the right online tools, the more cohesive your course will feel.

Referenced: Strategies for Teaching Blended Learning Courses, Maybe You (and Your Students) Can Have It All, By: Mary Bart

1. Frequent Opportunities

Provide frequent opportunities for students to communicate and connect with one another. Student learning is enhanced when students have the opportunity to connect with each other about their academic work.

2. Limit Size

Limit the size of discussion groups. Rather than having an entire class talk in one large group, break the class into smaller discussion groups of four or five students. That way, students can get to know each other in a more intimate way.

3. Pair Student with “Buddy”

Consider pairing each student with a “buddy” in the course. The buddy system gives students a source of support in the online classroom. You might pair students with varying technological experience, with similar technological skills, or you might pair students according to the goals of your course or the assignment.

4. Be Accessible 

In your written communication, present yourself as accessible to students. In an online course, it is especially important that students feel that you are approachable.  Address students by name and encourage and praise student-initiated contact.

5. Communicate Frequently

Show students that you are really “there” by responding in a timely manner to individual questions or issues that are raised in discussion groups, participating in online discussions, giving students regular feedback on their work and their comments. Show students that you’re listening as well as responding by being flexible enough to make changes to the course mid-stream based on student feedback.

6. Be Aware of Tone

Remember that in the virtual classroom, neither the instructor nor the student has the visual cues of face-to-face communication. Therefore, students will use the cues that are available (most all of them in writing) to help them understand the classroom climate. Therefore, how the instructor shapes the course climate through written comments and the tone of communications to students is particularly important.

7. Private Email

Use private email for sensitive communications (i.e. to comment on individual student contributions and criticism). Use threaded discussions for group conversations only.