Core communication provides ways for students and staff to exchange and share information.
Welcome message – provide a message that students see on their first entry to the online environment. In a VLE this is usually as an announcement. Ensure that the announcement actually welcomes the student and provides some brief instruction about where to go or what to do next.
Staff information and profile – in a fully online environment your students may never actually see you so it is important that they are able to make the connection between your name and you the person.
Do this by creating a staff profile that has a good clear head and shoulders image of you, a brief autobiography and contact information. This will allow the student to see that you are a real person.
Create a social/coffee area – this can be created in a discussion group and has multiple benefits. Firstly, it provides students with an easy entry to discussion boards and the technology. Secondly, students can post about things they are comfortable talking about without the pressure of course expectations. Thirdly, it provides students with a space to socialise and chat about non-course related topics, keeping the course related discussion areas clear of chat.
Create an FAQ page – where students post and respond to questions about the course. This is an excellent way to encourage peer to peer support. It keeps all the support related questions in one place and encourages group collaboration. The teacher should dip in every so often just to check that any advice given is correct, making suggestions where required without being critical.
Course feedback – this is important to staff and students. For students it is their opportunity to say how their course has gone and suggest future enhancements. Feedback is one of the tools the university uses to monitor quality, it also provides a mechanism whereby areas of excellence and areas for improvement can be identified. The university’s surveys webpage provides information on the surveys which are carried out over an academic year. Although directed at students it is of equal value to teaching staff.
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