Template 1: Welcome Message
This quick introductory message reaches out to worried students, and helps to break the ice, by:
- Establishing a personal connection
- Setting a friendly but professional tone, and
- Reassuring students that they don’t have to figure it all out on their own.
Message subject line: Welcome to [the course]!
Hello everyone, and welcome to [course name]!
I’m [your name], and I co-ordinate this course. I’m really looking forward to seeing your contributions.
If you’re new to online learning, you may have noticed that it can take a moment to find your feet.
That’s why I’m sending out this series of 7 [emails/announcements]. They’ll answer the most common questions I receive, and help you get oriented.
The [emails/announcements] will begin tomorrow.
See you then!
Template 2: Setting Student Expectations
The second message in this series outlines some of the key aspects of the online learning environment. It helps to:
- Set realistic student expectations
- Demystify the online classroom, and
- Make online learning a little less daunting.
Message subject line: The E-learning Environment
[boxwithcopybutton class=”secondbox”]Hello everyone
Let’s begin by talking about what to expect from an online learning environment.
If you’ve studied in a traditional setting, you’ll be used to seeing three things:
1. The teacher is directing everything
2. Interaction is face-to-face, and
3. Feedback is immediate.
But things are quite different when you learn online.
In this course, you’ll find that:
1.The teacher is a guide rather than a direct supervisor
I’m here to point you in the right direction, but much of your work will be done independently.
2. Interaction is wholly online
I’ll communicate with you through email, announcements, and on the discussion boards. You can also talk to your fellow students on the discussion boards.
3. Feedback is delayed
I’ll give you feedback directly on your work, and through email. But this doesn’t happen immediately, or in real time. I’ll return your work within [number] working days.
As you can see, traditional and online learning are quite different.
But when you know what to expect, you’ll feel more at home in this environment.
And even though communication happens online, you’re never left stranded without help. We’ll talk about all the kinds of support available to you tomorrow!
Kind regards [/boxwithcopybutton]
Template 3: Accessing Support
The third message in this series reminds students that they’re not alone on their e-learning journey. It highlights:
- Some of the specific kinds of support available
- Gives relevant contact details, so they can go direct to the appropriate area, and
- Encourages students to reach out for help, rather than worry on their own.
Message subject line: Student Support
But don’t worry – this is certainly not the case. In fact, you have access to many different kinds of support.
- Support with technical glitches
If you can’t access your email or student page, the Helpdesk will sort this out for you: contact them on [insert email and phone numbers].
- Peer support
Feel free to reach out to your fellow learners on the discussion boards. These work like virtual tutorials, and offer a great opportunity to exchange ideas with other students.
- Support with course materials or assessments
Take a moment to check the appropriate tab in [Blackboard/Moodle] for relevant instructions. Everything is laid out to be as user-friendly as possible.
Course Materials are under the [Course Materials] tab. Assignment information is under the [Assessments] tab.
And, if you still have course-related questions, feel free to email me: [your email].
- Student support services
The [Student Support Centre] is available to help you with a range of issues, from study skill help, to private counselling. You can contact them here: [email and phone number].
As you can see, you’re not alone on this e-learning journey. You need only to reach out for any support you need.
Template 4: Navigating the LMS
The fourth message in this series is a crash course in LMS navigation. So many students are too busy to learn the basics (and so they email you!). But here, you can show them how to:
- Do a bare-bones, self-directed orientation
- Find the key information they need to get started on the course, and
- Get used to finding what they need independently.
Message subject line: Finding your way around [Blackboard/Moodle]
Today we’re going to talk about your learning management system, which as you know, is called [Blackboard/Moodle].
At first glance, [Blackboard/Moodle] will seem a little strange, but once you get used to it, you’ll see that everything you need is quite easily accessible.
And here’s the secret to finding your feet more quickly…
Spend a few minutes now, and make sure you can find the key information you need to get started with the course.
You’ll need to locate:
- The course outline – it’s under the [Course Outline] tab
- Assignment deadlines – these are under the [Assessments] tab
- Online lectures and readings – these are under the [Course Material] tab
- The online forums, where you can contribute to course discussions – these are under the [Discussion Boards] tab.
Once you know your way around [Blackboard/Moodle], you’ll feel a lot more confident.
And then you can jump right in, and get started on the course itself.
Template 5: Time Management Basics
The fifth message in this series addresses a problem that is an epidemic amongst online learners: time management. This message:
- Acknowledges that this is a common student problem
- Offers a simple system for keeping track of deadlines, and
- Makes an intimidating topic seem less overwhelming.
Message subject line: Time Management Tips
Today I want to talk very briefly about a topic I know is a huge challenge for many of my students – time management.
Chances are you already have a lot on your plate.
You may well have a job, family responsibilities, and a whole raft of other commitments.
So how will you fit in time to study?
The key is to get organized – and as soon as possible! Here are some short cuts:
- Invest in a (large!) monthly wall calendar.
Put it up on the wall above your computer, where you can’t miss it. This old-school system is an in-your-face way of planning your time carefully.
- Note that each piece of assessment has its own deadline.
Find out what the assessment due dates are now – and mark them on your wall calendar. This way, deadlines won’t suddenly ‘sneak up’ on you.
- Understand that this paper requires approximately [number] hours of study.
That means you’ll need to allocate weekly chunks of time for study.
Block out your weekly study sessions on your wall calendar, and note down your other commitments around those periods. That way, you MAKE time for all the things you need to get done.
When you organize your time in advance, you set yourself up for meeting deadlines with a lot less stress.
Template 6: Feedback terror
The sixth message in this series reminds students of the purpose of feedback. Many insecure students are extremely discouraged by feedback they perceive as negative. This message underlines that:
- It’s normal to be worried about getting feedback, especially after a long period away from formal study
- Feedback focuses on the student’s work itself, and is not personal, and
- Feedback is an essential part of the learning process.
Message subject line: How to Deal with Feedback
Many adult students feel very vulnerable when waiting for feedback on their submitted work. This is really common, and totally understandable.
You might have been away from formal learning for a long time. Or you might have had some negative student experiences in the past. Both of these scenarios will make you more nervous about being ‘judged’ by your facilitator.
But here’s the thing to remember.
The feedback you receive will be about your work – not about you. No one is judging you.
The purpose of feedback is to explain what you did well, but also to highlight where you can improve for next time.
You’ve enrolled in this course to learn specific skills and information. The process involves hearing about your strengths and weaknesses. And that can be confronting.
That’s why it’s so important to remember that feedback is not personal.
It’s not intended to insult you, or make you give up, and drop out. It’s intended to be fair and helpful.
And if you address the issues identified in the feedback, your work will get better.
That’s why we do it.
Template 7: Drop Out Insurance
The last message in this series provides students with some concrete alternatives to dropping out. It reminds learners that:
- Unexpected Life Events can happen at any time, and don’t have to mean disaster
- There are several ways of making a Plan B, and
- Many forms of support are there for the asking.
Message subject line: Disaster Planning
No matter how well you plan your semester, sometimes a Life Event will come crashing in, and throw you off course.
It happens. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost, and you might as well drop out!
When Life throws you a curve ball, you have lots of options with your course. These include:
- Asking for an extension
If you get sick or have a legitimate problem that stops you meeting an assignment deadline, please contact me to discuss a possible extension.
Remember, my email is: [your email].
- Course withdrawal
If the Life Event means you can’t possibly complete the course, please let me know as soon as possible. It’s almost always better to formally withdraw from the course rather than have a ‘fail’ on your record.
- Accessing student support services
Remember that you have access to a wide range of student support services – from technical support, and personal crisis counselling, to study skill support.
Reach out for the help you need. The sooner you get some support, the easier it will be to get back on track with your study.
I understand that sometimes things don’t go quite as planned. But it’s much smarter to make a Plan B along the above lines than give up altogether.
Good luck with the course!
Kind regards [/boxwithcopybutton]
When your students are more confident, you create a miracle.
When your students are more confident, you create a miracle.
Confident students have a more positive learning experience. They give great feedback, and are more likely to complete your course.
And of course, higher course completions and glowing student feedback reflect well on you, and enhance your professional reputation.
When you create more confident students, everyone wins.
It may indeed take a miracle, but now you have 7 templates to help you create one.