The weekly course updates are like meeting with the instructor once a week.
Knowing that the professor is available to chat or email makes me more comfortable.
Video conferencing with my group makes project planning much faster.
Communication is the process that allows people within the course to exchange information. Many students feel that a comfortable flow of communication between the instructor and student, as well as with other students, is critical for an online learning experience.
Communication requires a common language. This can be problematic in online courses where much of the interaction occurs through written text. Students who are poor or slow writers can be at a disadvantage. The use of images, audio, and video can be helpful for some learners.
Public and Private Communication
Think about tools that allow both public and private communications particularly between students and the instructors. In some cases, students feel more comfortable emailing or chatting one-on-one rather than in a group setting.
According to a theorem developed by Terry Anderson (May 2002) in his article An Updated and Theoretical Rationale for Interaction, "Sufficient levels of deep and meaningful learning can be developed as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student-teacher; student-student; student-content) are at very high levels. The other two may be offered at minimal levels or even eliminated without degrading the educational experience. High levels of more than one of these three modes will likely deliver a more satisfying educational experience, though these experiences may not be as cost or time effective as less interactive learning sequences."
Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication
Online courses may contain both synchronous (real-time, live interaction) and asynchronous (delayed) communication. While some students enjoy the live interaction of a video conference, others find the scheduling a hassle. It's important for course developers to think about providing a variety of effective, efficient, and appealing methods for course communication.
Technology allows both small and large number of individuals to participate in communications. Although generic, class-wide communications such as announcements are important, it's also essential that participants feel like they are an individual in the class receiving personal praise and encouragement.
Read the following pages to learn about each type of communication:
Communication allows class participants to exchange messages.
Select a variety of communication types to meet individual needs.
Consider the following areas:
Communication modes: text, graphics, audio, video
Timing: real-time vs delayed
Number of recipients: one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many
Level of privacy: public, semi-private, private
Create a list of whole class communication options.
Also, list ways to interact with individuals.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?