Equitable Communications with all Students

Much of the communicating you’ll be doing may have to move between modalities, unless you’re teaching exclusively online. By considering possible communications issues now, you’ll be better prepared to reduce student confusion and misunderstanding, regardless of how they’re attending at a particular point in time.

Questions to consider about communicating information to students:

  • If you are teaching in-person how will you ensure that you’re communicating the same information to the students who are not attending in-person?
  • If you are teaching almost exclusively online, how will you communicate expectations for the week or day-to-day of the course?
  • If you are pivoting between modalities, is there a tried and true way to communicate important information to students using tools built within Canvas?
  • Are the tools within Canvas enough to help you communicate your expectations to students?

Consider using Announcements in Canvas to remedy some of these issues. Announcements can be used to help students have a centralized place within their course to see a history of updates, notes, reminders, etc. When set-up, notifications in Canvas will send emails to users when you post announcements.

Consider creating Transparent assignments so that all students benefit from knowing the Purpose, Tasks, and Criteria for success. Not only will this assignment design technique will decrease what you might need to explain to students who can’t attend an in-person session, but it’ll help the students who can attend the in-person, as well because they’ll be less likely to need to ask you further questions!

Questions to consider about communicating with students about the course (not necessarily information for everyone):

  • If you’re teaching in-person, you may leave time before class or after class to have unstructured time for questions about upcoming assignments, time for quick check-ins with students, or time to ask students if they heard about “x”—is there a way for you to move that communication online so that all students can “see” it and know that that is also where they can ask questions of you?
  • If you’re teaching almost exclusively online, did you create a space where students can answer each other’s questions about course expectations or as a place to post topical content that isn’t necessarily going to be covered during the course? This can sometimes look like an asynchronous discussion: “TOPIC OF COURSE” in the News, and you can encourage students to post here should they find relevant content.
  • If you’re teaching in-person, but have students participating asynchronously, online, on certain days, will you create small groups to encourage sharing “pop-up” information with students who are not attending in-person.

Consider using Canvas discussions to facilitate the “Topic of the Course” in the News prompt or a “Raise Your Hand” discussion topic.

Be sure to let students know how best to get in touch with you and with their classmates. You could ask students to create a buddy-system to communicate “pop up” information that may not necessarily be anywhere else in the course. Remember to add that information to the course at some point so that students who cannot attend due to a myriad of circumstances (e.g. students who may be. immunocompromised, are self-isolating, are ill themselves, or if you are ill) will have all of the information they need to be successful.

Questions to consider about building community between students:

  • If you’re teaching in-person, and there are some students attending on alternate days, will you work to create community with those in the classroom only, or will you try to facilitate building community between those different student groups (e.g. students who attend in-person on Mondays still engage with students who attend in-person on Wednesday; students who always attend in-person work with a smaller sub-set of students who cannot attend in-person.)
  • If you’re teaching almost totally online, how will you create community when many conversations are happening asynchronously?
  • If you’re moving fluidly between in-person instruction, synchronous online instruction, and online, asynchronous discussion how will you ensure that you’re providing equal community building opportunities to all students?