One potential stumbling block in teaching an online course is communicating how to use the course's technology tools to the students in the course. The students in your course will have varying levels of comfort with using new technology so it's important to help guide them through the process of using a tool they may be unfamiliar with. 

 Caution You cannot assume that all of your students will be tech-savvy, even if most have used computers from a young age. Surfing the internet and using social media are not proof that a student can utilize other technologies to satisfactorily complete assignments and activities required of remote learning. It is essential that you communicate with students early about how to use the online tools that are used in your course.   

The following pages contain messages that you can use (copy-and-paste and/or adapt) to help students understand how to use the technologies in your online class. Fill in these boilerplate messages with course-specific information. Please consider using these messages in one or more of the following places:

  • Announcement:  If you are considering meeting with students synchronously online, consider creating a “How to Meet” announcement as early as you can. This announcement will inform the students of the technical requirements that are required to prepare for that meeting (See Zoom Messages)
  • Start Here Module: If your course is asynchronous in nature, consider creating a “Start Here” Module.  You could include a page that tells students how to get started on all of the technology that they will be using, or you could create individual pages for each technology.  
  • Embedded in Your Course:  When students are encountering a new tool or technology within the course, provide the information simultaneously with the tool or technology. (Example: If students are turning in an assignment for the first time, consider posting the message related to assignments in the assignment directions)
  • Email: If you are choosing to use a tool outside of Canvas, email your students to tell them how to access the tools you are planning on using.  (For example, instructors may want to send students to Zoom directly.  Customize the Zoom invitation to include a message similar to ones below about how students should prepare to use that tool.)

 Pro tip: Look at your course as if you were a student.  Decide where in your course would be a prominent place for students to get information: this would be a good place to locate these messages.

 Assignment tool messages

<insert assignment instructions>

Click on Submit Assignment. You will attach the assignment as a <insert application name or filetype; Word document, PDF, Zip file, .doc, .docx, .png, .jpg, .pdf> file by clicking the Choose File… button and then selecting your assignment file from your computer. Click OK, and then on the Assignment page, click Submit Assignment to turn in your assignment.

If you have a problem turning in the assignment, contact me at <insert email address>. 

<insert late policies, etc.>

  VoiceThread messages

Description how to make a comment to a VoiceThread lecture or student presentation

<Insert directions for VoiceThread student presentation>

If you would like to make a comment, click the Comment button at the bottom of the presentation on the slide on which you want to leave your comment. After clicking the Comment button, you will be given the choice to leave a voice, video (webcam) or text comment. Consult this helpsheet if you need assistance. 

Description to make a student presentation

<Insert directions for VoiceThread student presentation>

To complete your VoiceThread student presentation, please follow these steps on how to upload and narrate your slides found in this helpsheet.  

 Discussion board messages

In description area of discussion board

<Insert Discussion Question>

The effectiveness of discussion boards relies on students interacting with one another to foster learning. As such, your first posting will be due on Wednesday of each week, and you will be expected to make two replies to your classmates by Saturday of each week. You can find the expectations for the quality of your postings in the course syllabus.

Instructor-created thread within discussion forum

<Insert Discussion Question>

Please return to the previous page (the forum), click Reply in the upper-left of the pane, and write your posting. The question or prompt will be above the text-entry box. Remember that your first posting will be due on Wednesday of each week, and you will be expected to make two replies to your classmates by Saturday of each week. You can find the expectations for the quality of your postings in the course syllabus.

Communicating expectations in a discussion-based course

Participation in these discussions is mandatory and constitutes a large part of your grade, so approach the Discussion Board with serious attention and thought. You will be held to the highest standards of spelling, grammar, high-quality ideas, and respect for others. You must POST ONCE and COMMENT TWICE in order to receive a grade. There is no partial credit!

  • A “Post” includes:
    • A quote from the relevant chapter, including page number.
    • A question from the chapter or a personal query.
    • An answer to the question posed with reference to the quote and other material from the chapter. Personal anecdotes are also encouraged, but you must reference the ideas from the book.
    • Estimated 500-1000 words
  • A “Comment” includes:
    • An answer to the question posed in the original comment using material from the chapter and personal stories.
    • Estimated 250-500 words.

How to post to the discussion board

<Insert Discussion Question>

To add your reply, please click the Reply button down below, and a new text box will appear. In this new window, you will have to type in a subject. Your answers go into the text box and finally, select Post Reply in the final step. If you click on a person's thread, you can click Reply and reply to your classmate's contribution. Most important is to click Post Reply in the final steps.

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