Student Communication Plan
Your course syllabus is your primary tool for communicating your course design and your intended learning pathway to students. As part of your review of your syllabus and overall course design, consider answering these questions about how you will ensure that students are aware of the course design that you have communicated through your syllabus. This review may lead you to think about other course documents as well.
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How do I help my students see how my course is designed?
Give students a high‑level view of how the course is structured. Talk about the ways in which the course was designed to support learning (quizzes, active learning techniques, or video content to support blended learning). This helps students navigate the course effectively, and gives them the chance to provide feedback about how the course is designed. In what ways does your syllabus provide this overview? What other course components can you use to make your course design explicit for students?
How can I connect course activities to learning objectives and outcomes?
Leverage the time spent developing clear unit objectives by explicitly linking them to course activities. Consider explaining in your syllabus how each major course activity supports a learning outcome. Follow this up with activity descriptions that call students’ attention back to your course design.
Example: This discussion question is meant to help facilitate Unit Objective 3: Formulate and clearly articulate arguments to defend your position on climate change.
How can I communicate the results from one activity to seed new activities?
Often explaining why activities matter in your syllabus is not enough. If students spend time with in-class and online activities without their work being acknowledged or referenced by the instructor, they may not see a return on their investment of time. Bringing the results of these activities into the classroom, for example, will help them understand the purpose and value of their coursework.
Example: In yesterday’s discussion forum, a common misconception was revealed. I want to spend a few moments addressing this and have us work together to clear this up.
What do my students need to know in order to engage in online and out-of-class activities for my course?
In addition to explaining the rationale for an activity, consider the knowledge students will need to be successful and where they should go if they experience problems.
Example: The online activity to be completed before class tomorrow covers the content in Chapter 4 of the textbook and the article in Canvas under Week 4. If you have problems, please review the readings first. I am available during office hours to answer any questions.
How will my students know how much time to invest?
Consider estimating the amount of time it might take for students to complete different activities and sharing your estimate with students. You can communicate your workload expectations and help them plan their study time. To check the validity of your estimates, consider asking students after the activity whether your estimates were accurate.
Example: You should expect to spend about 30 minutes reviewing the content and completing the online reflection paper.
What do my students need to know about data collection and usage?
Let students know that you plan to use learning data to provide insight into their engagement and learning. Assure them that data collection and usage will be in support of iteratively improving the course experience and will be aligned with campus guiding principles and student privacy, as outlined in UW-Madison’s Teaching and Learning Data Transparency Statement
Student Technical Support Plan
Create a plan for you and your students that outlines what technology will be used, how students will learn to use it (if they haven’t used it already) and where students can go for support. Addressing these issues in the design phase of course creation will ensure you plan ahead to address inevitable technical issues.
- Review key features of supported tools.
- Provide instructions on how to access the tools. Keep instructions simple.
- Develop a backup plan in case of any prolonged issues or an outage.
- Explain the function and purpose of the tool and its role in the course (either in person in your first class or on the syllabus) so you get buy‑in from the students.
- Consider options for student training and support such as DoIT’s Software Training for Students (STS), the Design Lab and LinkedIn Learning. For instance, create a training resource page on your Canvas course site that lists ways for students to find support and guides them to on‑campus support services.