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Module B ButtonTopic B3.2: Communicating Online

Part B: Dynamic Components of the Online Course: Effective Communication Throughout Your Online Course
Once course expectations are set and the course begins, the instructor’s communication becomes dynamic and should perform the following functions:

  • Acknowledge participation
  • Encourage students’ activity
  • Monitor and prompt for participation
  • Reassure participants
  • Infuse enthusiasm for learning and discovery
  • Alert for lackluster performance
  • Provide constructive feedback


Several tools are available to achieve the above goals, and instructors should be familiar with their characteristics to ensure effective dynamic communication.

Announcements In most course platforms, announcements appear automatically on students’ screen as soon as course is accessed; therefore, they can be used to direct instruction and alert participants of newly posted discussion topics, quizzes.
Discussion Boards (asynchronous communication) The “hub” of the online course. Instructor’s open-ended questions guide learning, moderate discussion, and encourage participation. In addition, the instructor clarifies confusing concepts and/or reassures participants’ understanding of content.

General E-mails

  • Add emphasis to a class announcement
  • Alert student to important assessments, deadlines, or activities


Single/Select E-mails

  • Acknowledge receiving student’s questions, inquiries, or assignments
  • Prompt student(s) for increase participation
  • Alert student(s) for lackluster performance
  • Convey more private messages
Other (Digital Drop Box, Online Grading, Virtual Chats) These tools should be used to provide students with constructive feedback and to encourage learning through increased involvement in the course.


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