Distance Learning & Instructional Technology

Communicating With Students

How to Communicate 

  • Add a link to Zoom to your Canvas Course Menu so students can easily find the virtual environment. To do this, go to setting in you Canvas Course and enable the new Zoom integration so that it appears in the course navigation.
  • Verify your official myUNTD course enrollment matches your Canvas course enrollment. Sometime there is lag time in Canvas course shell enrollments. If you see a difference in enrollments, contact distancelearning@untdallas.edu.
  • A full inbox can be overwhelming. If you decide to communicate via email: 
    • Use the Canvas Inbox email tool to email your classes. Using the Canvas Inbox email tool saves time and will prevent you from leaving a student off an important email. All emails will be received via UNTD email and are also list in the Canvas Inbox. The Canvas Inbox tool also retains a copy of the emails you send from within the system.
  • Use Announcements. Announcements are sent to student email addresses and remain visible in the course.  
  • Hold office hours or Q&A sessions using Zoom.  
  • Set up a Q&A discussion forum in Canvas. Request that students post non-personal questions to that forum rather than emailing you. Refer students with the same question to the discussion forum to decrease the number of emails you write. 

When to Communicate 

  • Contact all your students as soon as courses start or early if possible via email or Canvas Annoucement. Call students who miss the first virtual class sessions or haven’t your online course shell. Doing so lets them know that you care about them and increases the likelihood that they will stay engaged.
  • Call students who suddenly stop participating in class to find out what caused the change in behavior. Not all students will function at their best in this less structured environment, even if they want to be successful.
  • Communicate with the whole class multiple times each week using email, announcements, messages, and/or other tools.

What to Communicate 

  • Post announcements in Canvas and/or email students as a reminder of upcoming assignment due dates, tests, and milestones on upcoming projects. Both you and the students are likely under increased stress (emotional, financial, etc.). Communicate frequently and calmly as a way to create structure and consistency in a rapidly-changing environment.
  • Provide feedback to students on assignments as quickly as possible. Post when students should expect to receive grades and feedback (eg. within 3-4 days after posted due date). Make your grading more efficient by providing feedback on assignments to the entire class when appropriate. For example, if most students in the course lack a thesis statement in an essay, address that through an announcement, email, and/or video and don’t address the issue at the individual level. Students who do not receive feedback on assignments are more likely to check out.

Significant portions of this guidance (including the title) are adapted, with permission, from the Indiana University Knowledge Base article "Keep teaching during prolonged campus or building closures" and Pepperdine University's Keep On Teaching plan.