Best Practices

2015-16

Best Practices in Communication

Effective communication is the hallmark of success in virtual instructional programs. Maintaining effective communication with all stakeholders plays a vital role in the success of the courses and programs. As such, it is important to use tools and resources that will foster on-going, active collaboration & communication.

Fall 2015

World Literature and Composition

Reflection

News Announcements and Course Reminders Reflection: As a veteran educator, I have seen how the advancements in technology altered classroom communication as well. Communication is more frequent and sophisticated depending on what tools are available in the district. Student information systems have features that automatically email student/parents when assignments are due or a test or special event is planned. During Fall semester, I found that providing frequent reminders in the form of news items were effective and reached the students in a timely manner. Effective communication remains an essential part of online instruction because it is the lifeline for the students to be successful throughout the program. Communication is important in any educational setting, but it is especially so in an online environment. The nature of online course dictates that connections with students and other stakeholders via effective communication remain a focal point in online learning. Students depend on a variety of modes of communication to get the necessary information to remain current in a course: assignment feedback, email reminders, discussion feedback, academic lab sessions, progress checks, etc. All of these types of communication help students remain current about the happenings of the course as well as overall student progress.

September 2015

Welcome Smore: At the beginning of each course, I use as many mediums as possible to keep the students and parents informed about GaVS practices as well as course procedures. Even though most of this information is posted in the course, I think that it is necessary to provide students with multiple options when communicating important practices. The newsletter is posted on the course homepage as well as included in the first few course updates to ensure easy access.

Welcome Smore Link

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Discussion Reminders: Students tend to think that the discussion forum is a casual chat space. I like to include reminders to let them know what the expectations are while participating in the discussion forum. Doing so establishes proper foundations and expectations and makes grading a breeze. When students consistently fail to meet the guidelines, I even use this as a grading stamp. The students tend to pay more attention to the feedback notes, so the guidelines stamp usually does the trick.
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Assignment Reminders: Students often need reminders to maintain a steady work ethic on long-term assignments. This notice is posted on the course homepage as well as included (narrative form) in the course updates.
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Special Needs PL Session Showcase: As I was participating in the Special Needs PL session this fall, I was surprised to see some of my work was used as a best practice example. I will strive to continue to implement the excellent tips and techniques that I learn from the PL sessions at GaVS as well as the world-class tip and tricks from other GaVS instructors.
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October 2015

Review Feedback News Item: I was very surprised to notice that some students did not review feedback on a regular basis. Reviewing feedback is an important step in the learning process. In an effort to ensure that all students review their assignment feedback, I created a graphic to help them access the feedback for each assignment.
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Problem Solving Communication: Email communication series which demonstrates a problem and resolution with a reflection from the teacher.

These emails and news items demonstrate how issues were addressed in the course. It is important to communicate solutions to students when problems arise in the course.

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November 2015

Peer Review Reminders & News Items: Reminding students of specific tasks and clarifying assignment details/processes is vital to student success. With the peer review component attached to an essay in this course, it was important to maintain specific communication with students so that everyone could participate in the activities.

Spring 2016

9th Grade Literature & Composition

English Literature & Composition

February 2016

Reflection

News Announcements and Course Reminders Reflection: Upon the start of a new semester, it is important to establish sound communication practices immediately. When students begin a new course, they need informative reminders and notices to help them get off to a great start. A welcome newsletter, discussion guidelines and general tips are what I used this semester to communicate some important information. I try to update these items to reflect the experiences from prior courses. When I initially used the newsletter, I provided the link in the course updates. I found that I got more traction by adding a news item with the link. In the same manner, I revised my discussion guidelines this semester to address some of the issues I had last semester with students submitting discussion posts that did not meet the minimum guidelines. Having these reminders in class helped the students be successful as they completed their assignments. Whether I am trying to communicate tips and techniques, important dates, or changes to the schedule, I try to make sure that the messages are eye-catching and useful to ensure that the students pay attention to each new message that is posted.
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March 2016

Assignment Updates: I used this updated schedule news Items that address problems that arise in the course in an effort to communicate how to proceed with assignments. This helped eliminate a great deal of confusion.
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April 2016

Spring Break Reminder: I learned early on from my mentors as well as department chair that communicating procedures and expectations during breaks makes my life easier as an online instructor. This is an example of the notice I used in the spring. I also added this to the course updates and monthly newsletters.
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