Friday Feature: Communication in Online Courses

I know it says Friday Feature and today is Monday. I was in a 3-day workshop last week learning about creating and using video in the classroom. It was an excellent workshop. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to become more knowledgeable about creating and using video in the classroom or in online teaching.

It occurred to me that I hadn’t posted the Friday feature as I was driving home on Friday evening. So, I am posting it today instead.

Communicating with students is always more difficult in online courses. Yes, you can use e-mail and discussion boards and although both are viable communication tools, you don’t quite get the feel of a real presence–hearing the actual voice of a person rather than trying to interpret what they are saying through their writing. Reading between the lines can sometimes be a problem.

But what alternatives are there? Here are a few ideas to try with your online students. I like to vary the way I communicate with students, so I find it useful to use synchronous tools throughout my online teaching.  You, as the instructor, need to find a way, or a tool,  that works for you. The instructor has to feel comfortable with the web tool in order to use it effectively with the students. The students also have to “see” a reason for why you are requiring them to be online at a certain time and date. So make sure they understand the purpose and if participation is required or not. An easy way to start: virtual office hours.

Have you tried or used any of these tools in an online course (either as the instructor or as a student)?

  • Voice Thread
    VoiceThread for Online Teaching and Learning: Practical design strategies & student perspectives
    Using VoiceThread for Digital Conversations
  • Vyew
    Using Web Conferencing with Moodle (or other LMS platforms)
    Features of Vyew:

    • Use for online office hours
    • No software to install – meet instantly.
    • Each web meeting becomes archived for future referencing.
    • Pages can be inserted, removed, re-arranged, and easily flipped-through.
    • Open VyewBooks during live sessions on-demand, switching between different versions or various content – this could allow you to review old material or have a different Vyewbook for different courses.
    • Draw, import, move, paste, scale, etc.
    • Allow users to review, comment or build content even when you’re not present – Asynchronous office hours? A new way to meet?
    • Publish your meetings via direct URL or embedded in a webpage/email.
    • There are many useful plugins, like polling, etc. That might be useful.
    • It appears that the only difference in the free version is the number of Vyewbooks (20) and pages per book (50).

Any other tools you have found successful? Please share them with me.

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