A strong academic presence can help engage students in content and activities and ensure student satisfaction and engagement throughout the duration of the unit.

Communication tools in your unit may include:

Many of these communication tools will be based on how the unit is delivered, as well as your faculty preferences. To learn more about unit design, please read our Your units.

Working with groups allows you to communicate with groups of students and staff. To learn more about how to create and manage groups, please read Group and Groupings 

Understanding expectations

Having a social presence in your unit through different communication channels means that you can clearly articulate your expectations of students during the course of the unit, as well as what they can expect from you regarding regular communication.

Your expectations of students may include:

  • minimum required participation
  • student behaviour (online etiquette)
  • the standard and format of work they need to complete.

Students' expectations of you may include:

  • how and when you will participate in online discussion
  • your response times for feedback on their questions and assessments
  • your preferred means of communication.

Effective staff-student and student-student communication is essential for the success of any unit, as it creates a presence and community.

Your unit may include a range of different communication strategies to engage your students in a variety of modes, some of these may be hidden until you decide whether you want to incorporate them into the delivery of your unit.

When choosing the most appropriate communication tool consider both the purpose and function, for example:

  • Do you/or your students need to communicate in real time (synchronously)?
  • Does the information need to be recorded or archived?
  • Will the communication involve one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many?
  • Is there a need for urgency or immediacy or privacy?

Staff-student consultations

Beyond the classroom, you may wish to provide consultations via these synchronous methods:

  • LEO Chat activity (text only)
  • Zoom for meetings and online classrooms (video/voice/screen-sharing)

Unit information and reminders

Conveying unit information or reminders to students is an important aspect of unit management. Using either messages via the participants list or News forum/announcements makes this timely and easy to manage, as communication can be sent to the whole class, groups or selected individuals. If the communication is urgent, it is important to understand when and how this will be received by the student and factor this into your choice of communication.

Group discussions

Providing an opportunity for students to discuss topics can have an impact on their engagement and satisfaction in the unit, by providing spaces for communication and information sharing:

  • discussion forums such as Q&A, weekly topics (asynchronous)
  • wiki (asynchronous)
  • virtual class room (synchronous).

Online etiquette

Netiquette is also a helpful way to help students communicate more effectively and ensure students understand their roles and responsibilities and your expectations. For more information refer to netiquette and guidelines (Source: Teaching Online Course).

Phirangee, K., Demmans, C, and Hewitt, J (2016). Exploring the relationships between facilitation methods, students' sense of community and their online behaviours, in Online Learning Journal, v.20, no 2. Retrieved from: http://olj.onlinelearningconsortium.org/index.php/olj/article/view/775 [Accessed 7 July 2016].

Cooke, N., (2016). Information sharing, community development, and deindividuation in the eLearning domain, in Online Learning Journal, v.20, no 2. Retrieved from: http://olj.onlinelearningconsortium.org/index.php/olj/article/view/614 (Accessed 7 July 2016)

Page last updated on 14/03/2021

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