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Communication with Students

How and what to communicate with your students
by Brian SMentkowski, UI


Greeting and purpose of the message

Education OnlineGood morning, everyone.

As we adjust to flexible teaching methods because of COVID, I want to assure you of my commitment to your academic success and our collective commitment to accomplishing the core learning goals of this class. In short, while the medium will change, our commitment to learning will not. Specifically, BbLearn will be used as our home-base. I will use the Announcements tool to notify you of additions to the course site; how assignments will be posted, completed, collected, and returned; and how communication among and between us can operate effectively.

Linking tools to course goals and student performance

Zoom will used for certain instructional and discussion-based learning activities as appropriate and accommodations will be made for students for whom Internet connectivity and reliability is a challenge. Asynchronously, I will use the Announcements tool to share action prompts, links to course materials, activities, and due dates.

Your final paper (sample language), which draws together the evidence this course requires of your ability to locate, gather, and analyze appropriate information and communicate results in a professional format (referencing hypothetical student learning outcomes here), will be submitted, as indicated on the syllabus, through the Canvas Assignments tool, under the heading "Final Paper." The Journal tool will still be used as a place for you to upload your "work in progress" for feedback.

The syllabus identifies four in-class activities/short papers. We will use collaborative tools (Canvas Discussions, for example) as practical to facilitate your engagement with one another. Graded work (short papers, for example) will be uploaded per specific instructions that will accompany each assignment.

We're all in this together: additional expectations & gratitude

(Here you may wish to include additional information about your course, performance expectations, and how to contact you.)

Note: One of the easiest ways to transition to a more flexible format is to think about means-->ends relationships; that is, you can – and almost certainly should – keep the learning goals in place but consider alternative routes to accomplishing them. Another quick-tip is to modify your syllabus and clearly indicate revisions you have made to adapt the class.

And finally: Try to stay true to your class, especially the learning experience and the learning goals. If you would like to discuss some easy and effective pedagogical alternatives, tools, and technologies to make your class work and your students succeed, drop me a line.
Brian Smentkowski


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