Laura Hollinshead, Learning Technologist-Curriculum Development
Many of the communication approaches you use when students are studying on campus work well whilst students are taking part on the online part of blended learning. Here are a few tips about helping students to keep on top of understanding and finding key information.
Tips on communicating with students
- Let students know how and when you plan to communicate with them. Ensure this is a consistent experience ideally across the modules they are studying in their programme.
- Remember Course Resources should be used as the definitive source of information for students and Announcements can help you to communicate with students via email (just remember to tick the box!).
- Video and audio are also useful tools and can help you to provide information in a more engaging and dynamic way. This has the added advantage of feeling more personal as they get to hear your voice. Panopto recordings are a great tool for this and easy to add to your module.
- Keep communications short and concise, using headings to help to help break up the information and highlighting key information (such as dues dates) in bold.
- Time communications to provide students with the essential information they need for the upcoming week or study period.
- Think about summarising all the messages they have received during a period (e.g. week or two weeks) – this helps to make all the important messages clearer and focus their attention on key information.
- Think about what is best delivered from the programme area and what should come from the module to make sure students are not receiving repetitive communications.
- Use links to help signpost students to useful resources and learning activities. You can also link to areas in the module to help students easily navigate and find what they need.
Here are a couple of examples from colleges of what they have done to help with student communication.
- BSc Psychology wanted to ensure regular communications were sent to his students, without inundating them with information. The Psychology programme team agreed a consistent approach to communicating with their students through announcements in programme and module pages in Course Resources, while also making use of their already established programme Teams area. The team limit the number of messages they’re sending through announcements, and ensure they collate a batch of information and send this out in one message, using headings to break up the message and draw students to specific information and actions required by them.
- The College of Engineering and Technology tried to ensure students are supported to stay engaged with their learning. Academics have demonstrated compassion and patience with many students reporting feeling lost and overwhelmed since access to their collaborative campus spaces changed. In order to assist with this, Announcements within Course Resource have been used to provide links to video explanations for aspects of assessment, replacement lab data for students who have lost theirs, video for plotting log values, uploaded worked solutions from lab exercises, and online tutorials ‘stay safe and keep working on your assignments’.
I am sure you may have your own tips and hints so feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org so, we can share these within the university community.