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Orienting Your Students

Page history last edited by Anne McKinney 13 years, 10 months ago


See bottom of page for image information. 

Module 3: Communicating With Your Students


Contacting Students Early

Even before the semester begins, you will need to communicate with your students and begin the process of orienting them to your course. An effective practice for online instructors is to provide your students with information about the tools and navigation of your CMS, as well as significant elements of the course. Build into your website easy-to-find links to technical support and other academic support programs for your school. Additionally, include an explanation of strategies for their success in the course.


Recommended Practices


  • Send a welcome message to your students at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester. Give them a brief idea what they can expect from the course and how they can contact you. If they need to order a textbook for the course, disclose that information ASAP so they will have time to order and receive it by the first day of class.


  • When the semester begins, send a message (Announcement or email) with login information and guide students on how to get started in the course.


  • Include a brief orientation for students to gain familiarity with the terminology and the tools used in your CMS. You may need to use the first week for course orientation, getting-to-know-you icebreaker discussions, and lightweight introduction into the subject matter. It's possible that students who have ordered textbooks through the mail may still be waiting on delivery before they can begin textbook readings.


  • If your school uses students' university email accounts for important announcements and CMS user names, remind students that they will need to check that email account regularly. It's also a good idea to ask them to reply back to you with a short message to confirm that they have received your message and you have their correct address. You can assign a couple participation points for this in your gradebook to ensure they follow through.


  • Provide resources and strategies for success for online students. Explain how learning online is different from learning in a traditional classroom.


  • Provide a section of your syllabus, or a separate page, on course support resources (technical support, library, tutoring center, disability resources, etc.). This should be someplace where students will find it easily.


  • Develop a profile page for yourself with your name and contact information. See the cartoon below for more detail:


stripgenerator cartoon about creating a profile of yourself for your course. Go to the section at the bottom of the page for text content.

The takeaway message

Students can sometimes have a hard time identifying "real people" when they first get into an online course. Communicating with them, helping them "meet" their classmates, and revealing yourself both as a respected instructor and as a real human being will help orient them to the online learning experience.


Text only translation of the comic strip on this page 

When you teach an online course, it helps your students learn more about their instructor when you include some information about yourself in a profile or "About Me" page. Besides contact information, useful content can be a photo, brief biography, academic and/or personal interests, curriculum vita, and possibly a short video clip introducing students to your course. (Dr. Lorem Ipsum, Interests: online libraries & cats) Of course, there might be such a thing as showing too much personality...(This is my MySpace photo. LOL!!!)


Image on this page: Creative Commons licensed image via Flickr, Communication by DailyPic




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