Create a Communication Plan

Create a Communication Plan

Similar to the old real estate adage of location, location, location, the animating principle of your approach to engaging students during remote instruction should be communication, communication, communication. That is, more is indeed better in this case, and having a plan at the outset will help to ensure you are providing the quality and quantity of communication needed.

So what is the number of hours a day or week that you need to be actively engaged in student learning when providing remote instruction? The answer to that starts with another question: How much time do you spend in a face-to-face classroom, meeting with students, grading work, providing feedback, and preparing for the next lesson or unit? You should be as active in a remote instruction setting as you are in your face-to-courses. 

What, How, and When Will You Communicate?

The communication plan for your course should consider:

Sharing information with students:

  • What do students need to know?
  • When will they need to know it? 
  • Where will they find it?
  • What sort of regular communications you will send out to the class (e.g., weekly announcements and/or updates)?

Getting answers to questions:

  • Where should students direct questions? Be sure to include information for various types of questions (e.g. tech support, course content).
  • Where should they direct urgent needs or questions?

Expectations for responses from you:

  • How quickly will you respond to email?
  • How frequently will you respond to discussion posts?
  • How quickly will you give feedback on assignments?

Also, consider the communication tools available to you (that are supported by Miami University):

Consider which tools you can use for confidential versus public communication, and try to limit your communication to what’s essential. For example,

  • When you need to share information with just one or a couple of students, send an email to them directly, not the entire class. 
  • For Q&A about the course, set up a discussion forum where students can post their questions, which saves time over individual email correspondence. Encourage students to answer one another in this discussion (and monitor their answers).
  • Unless an update is critical, collect a list of them, and send them in a single email or announcement on a regular weekly schedule (ideally no more than once or twice per week), rather than sending out several different small announcements at random times.

Once your communication plan comes together, identify whether you and/or your students will need training and tutorials on how to use the tools you've selected.