The goal for this guide is to support you in providing clear instruction on where and how students can find definitive information about your course: what do you want them to do and where should they go to find this information? Communicating your plan with your students early in the course, as well as checking in during the course, can help to alleviate stress for your students. In addition to addressing your plan in person, you might choose to use technology to support communication with your students.
You could do this by:
It is highly recommended that you test all your intended communication protocols and tools prior to use. If you'd like to schedule a support session, please contact the FASE Education Technology Office by email ([email protected]) or phone (416) 978-1234.
1. Reminding students to ensure their notification settings are enabled.
Quercus users, including students, can customize how and when they receive notifications from courses. It can be tempting to disable these notifications, but, you might want to encourage students to ensure that they are a) turned on and b) set to send to both email and SMS (watch out for texting charges, though).
2. Inform students of the best ways to contact teaching team
It can be helpful to provide students the best way to reach the team. They can they contact your teaching team via email or by sending a message with the Inbox tool (see How do I use the Inbox as an instructor?). Using the Quercus Inbox tool is recommended, as it is a University supported tool.
3. Inform students of when they will be hearing from you
To keep communication consistent, inform your students of when (perhaps a specific day) you will be providing them with updates.
4. Posting an Announcement
Announcements are the most direct and powerful means of communication tools within Quercus (see "How do I add an announcement?" for instructions on how to create and manage announcements). Since announcements are logged within a course, they are easy to reference and are visible to all members of the teaching team, as well as students.
4.1. Highlights of the Announcement Tool
- A copy of the announcement is emailed to students (if their notifications are enabled) (see "How do I set my notification preferences as a student?")
- You can schedule posting/sending (see "How do I delay posting an announcement until a specific date in a course?")
- You can limit sending to a specific section of your course.
- You can enable (or disable) the ability for people to post responses to your announcements (see "How do I allow or disallow announcement replies in a course?").
- You can review all announcements posted to a course (versus losing them in an inbox) (see "How do I use the announcements index page?").
5. Start a Discussion Post
Discussions are used when you want a communication tool that provides ongoing interaction, unlike the "push" communication tools (see "What are discussions?"). Unlike announcements and emails, a discussion post can be a forum for continuous shared discussion, in a monitored forum, that will ensure that your students are getting accurate and appropriate course information.
5.1. Highlights of the Discussion Tool
- You use discussions to have an ongoing conversation (see "How do I create a discussion?").
- You'll be able to avoid duplication by addressing and answering questions at one time, versus responding to independent inquiries (see "How do I reply to a discussion as an instructor?").
- You can use your discretion to manage student posts and replies (see "How do I edit or delete student replies in a course?").
- You control when responses can be posted (or not) (see "How do I close a discussion for comments in a course?").
6. Send emails via the Inbox Tool or your Email Client
Emails can be used to communicate with individuals and groups and would be the go-to if a private conversation is required. If possible, it is recommended to use the announcement tool (with its public log) versus email as emails are easily ignored, deleted, or miscategorized as junk mail. It is more difficult to ensure that students receive this type of notification, as so much depends on the email settings on the device of the student.
You can send emails using 1) the Quercus Inbox tool or 2) by downloading a class roster (using the UT Advanced Group Tool) and emailing directly via your preferred email client.
6.1. Highlights of the Inbox Tool
- You can send basic text emails to your courses using the built-in Quercus inbox tool (see "How do I use the inbox as an instructor?").
- You can send to entire courses, groups within your course (e.g. sections), or to individuals (see "How do I send a message to a user in a group in the Inbox?").
- You should regularly check for unread messages (see "How do I find my unread messages in the Inbox?").
6.2. Highlights of the UT Advanced Group Tool (for emailing)
- You can export student emails from Quercus using a U of T-developed tool (see "How do I get student email addresses from Quercus?"). (Note: In order to use this tool, it requires enabling via Settings > Navigation (see "How do I modify the menu items on my course menu?") as it is not available on your course menu by default.)
7. Add an FAQ
Adding an FAQ Page (How do I create a new page in a course?) to your course content can help provide helpful information for students at any time (such as U of T's Campus Status). You may also want to place this FAQ at the top of your modules (perhaps in a "Student Information" module), so students have quick access.