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Time-Saving Tips for Student Communication

Page history last edited by Anne McKinney 15 years ago



"Where do I find the time?!"

Sending private, personalized messages can go a long way toward helping your students feel connected with you and the course they're taking. However, once you start multiplying the number of times you want to send a message or give feedback times the number of students in your course, this can easily take up a lot of time in your schedule! While it's expected that online teaching requires more time per course than f2f courses, you'll save yourself some sanity if you can use a few shortcuts to help you save time.


Some time-saving communication suggestions


  • When students post their first introductions or icebreaker messages, print them out or store them where you can easily refer back to them without sifting through forum threads. You can use this information to personalize your private messages to them.


  • Create form letters that you can personalize by adding their name.


  • It's common for several students to ask you the same questions. Save your responses to these questions so you can copy and paste rather than rewriting the same responses over and over again.


  • You can keep track of the messages and reminders you send out to your students by creating a chart. List your students and then make columns for individual, small group, and large group communications. Individual messages can be sent as feedback on an assignment, email, or a response to a message on a discussion forum. For messages you want to send to everyone, it's best to use the public discussion forums or make an Announcement on your main course page. You can find an example of a communication chart created at Texas Women's University here.


  • Some instructors like to use Twitter for sending out short reminders and last-minute announcements. Students can opt to receive these via text message on their cell phones, which can be more immediate than waiting for them to check their computers. See the cartoon below for more information, or scroll to the final section on this page for a text translation:


Comic strip about sending announcements to students with Twitter 

Breaking free from email and text

Sometimes the spoken word or immediate interaction will work better for you and a student than email. Some useful techniques:


  • Virtual office hours in chat space (vRoom is an example)
  • Online phone calls (Skype)
  • Short audio clips that explain feedback on students' assignments (this is more convenient for longer papers)


Text only translation of the comic strip on this page

Sometimes instructors need to send time-sensitive messages to their students. If students don't check the course website or their email on time, however, they might miss it. One way to reach students when they are offline is to send announcements through Twitter. Request that everyone subscribes to the class Twitter feed with text messages sent to their cell phones.  --BEEP-- Reminder: Elluminate session for LIS 571 today at 1:00 PM CST!



Exercising Your Knowledge

Have you had a memorable experience with instructor/student communication? This could be from your own teaching experiences or your experiences as a student yourself. What do you remember most about communicating with your instructor? Which traits would you want to emulate - or, alternatively, avoid? Of the practices mentioned in this module, what resonates with you the most?


Share your thoughts and opinions regarding effective communication practices in online pedagogy in our WISE forum on instructor-student communication, then respond to at least two others' messages in this forum for credit toward the Certificate of Completion.




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