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Addressing Course Communications

Clearly addressing communication policies in your syllabus helps ‘manage expectations’ and set high standards for student performance. This is particularly important in a DE course where you do not have the opportunity to read student body language or take informal questions that are likely to come up. Consider adding a Course Communication section to your course syllabus. Issues to be addressed include:

  • Available modes of communication
  • Instructor’s preferred mode of communication
  • Availability and expected response times
  • “Netiquette” policies

Sample text for your syllabus

Here is sample verbiage that faculty members have used. Feel free to 'cut and paste' to customize for your own use.

Modes of communication that will be available during the semester

sample text: The communications components of the course include email, Moodle discussion forums, and the Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing application.

Much of our discussion will take place asynchronously via the discussion forums on the course website, meaning that discussion occurs over an extended period of time rather than in "real time". You do not have to be online at the same time as other students and the instructor in order to participate in these discussions.

Instructor’s preferred means of communication
sample text: The best way to reach me is via email. Be sure to put (your course number) in the subject heading so that I will know that the message is about the course. If you need to discuss something with me by telephone, please email me so we can arrange a convenient time for a phone call.

If you would like to have a telephone conversation with me, please email first to set up a convenient time for us to chat. I do not check voicemail as frequently as email, so email is the preferred method of communication..

Statement of instructor’s availability and expected response times for student inquiries
sample text: I will attempt to respond to all email within 24 hours. On weekends I (do/do not) check my e-mail. If I receive numerous e-mails from students addressing the same concern(s), then a global e-mail will be sent to all course participants.

“Netiquette” policies related to student communications
sample text: In addition to formal university or government policies, regulations, and/or laws which may govern use of computers and networks, all students are expected to:

  • show respect for the instructor and for other students in all class communications
  • respect the privacy of other students  
  • express differences of opinion in a polite and rational way  
  • maintain an environment of constructive criticism when commenting on the work of other students  
  • avoid bringing up irrelevant topics when involved in group discussions or other collaborative activities

(In addition to these general guidelines, you may want to elaborate on your expectations regarding grammar, spelling, use of subject lines, etc.)

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