You must use your university account for email contact with students. Students will expect immediate responses to emails, so if you decide to only answer emails at a certain time of day or a couple of specified times during the week, make this clear to your students, ideally in your course outline.
Carleton’s communications policy states that any email you send to students should be sent only to their Carleton email account. If students email you from alternative accounts (such as Hotmail), you should respond to their Carleton account. This is to remain in compliance with the federal privacy act (FIPPA). Use your course syllabus to inform students that all correspondence will be held through Carleton email only.
Some professors use alternative methods of electronic communication, such as instant messenger technologies and social media tools to communicate with their students. Online office hours and tutorials can also be conducted using Zoom and BigBlueButton, web-conferencing tools integrated into Brightspace. See the Brightspace support page for more information.
Using these tools is your choice, not an obligation. You may want to set specific hours for these communication opportunities.
One of the biggest challenges instructors face is maintaining effective communication strategies with students. Some useful strategies to establish good communication with students include:
- Send out weekly updates and reminders about the course via the Announcements tool in Brightspace.
- Add a “housekeeping” slide for reminders and updates at the start of each class, and a “looking forward” slide at the end of the class to remind students of due dates, upcoming readings, etc.
- Use the Discussion tool in Brightspace. This creates a space where students can ask questions and you can answer them, once and for everyone.
- Create an FAQ section on your Brightspace course page and keep adding to it.
- Send an email shortly after class summarizing the day’s topics, especially those having to do with assignments or projects.
- Collect feedback using short and regular surveys that ask students how they are doing.
- Use Zoom or BigBlueButton office hours as a supplement to regular office hours.
- Send out a notice via the Announcement tool in Brightspace. It automatically goes to everyone and a record is kept not only for the instructor but for anyone in the course.
- Use gender neutral language.
- Communicate in a consistent manner throughout the course. Whatever you choose, be consistent!
- Define clearly your email availability and response time. Strive to answer all emails in a 24-48-hour period.
- Students appreciate notice; if changes are going to occur, communicate them to students.
- Use the ARCS Model to build motivation in communication: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction.
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