Instructional Design- EMAIL & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Using email and announcements are two effective ways of communicating with your students in an online environment. There are different advantages and disadvantages to each of the two, so it is best to choose based on which one serves your specific needs. Often, the most effective courses make use of both email and announcements.
Things to Keep in Mind..
- Plan your use of email communication carefully- one of the biggest complaints of online instructors is that they get inundated with email messages from students; careful planning can help avoid this
- You may want to consider setting up a separate email account just for class communication- or, set up a separate folder in your current email account to save all of your course correspondence; this way, you can avoid accidentally skipping or deleting emails relevant to the course
- It is always a good idea to collect and keep all communication from your courses, whether it be email or announcements, until after the course is over; this way, you will have a record of communication in case there is ever a question about grades, participation, etc.. from the students
- Make sure to communicate with your students in the very beginning on policies regarding the use of email- what attachment formats you can accept, what turn-around time you provide on answering emails, etc..; make sure that your students understand that just because they send that email at 2am, you are not going to respond to it then
- Announcements are great for communicating with everyone in the class at once, but remember that students cannot respond to an announcement like they can to an email
- Use announcements anytime you want to communicate information to the class as a whole; just make sure your students know that they should check the announcements webpage of your course at least once a day
- You can use email to communicate one-on-one with a student- to provide feedback on a particular assignment, or just to touch base once every week or two to make the students feel like they are receiving individual attention
- Email can be used to receive some assignments from your students; if working in Blackboard, you may want to consider the digital drop box as an alternative to email submissions; make sure you inform students of the types of attachments you can open, whether in email or the digital drop box
- If you are using Blackboard, you may want to consider maintaining a separate email listserv for your classes, to use as a backup in case the Blackboard server ever goes down; if the server were to go down for an extended period you would of course not be able to access Blackboard's internal email and announcements features; a listserv would allow you to email the students and carry on with class until the server was running again