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COPE Resources

Online Teaching 101: Communicating with Your Students

Communicating with Your Students

How do I contact students?

Use the Announcements tool in D2L can be used to communicate class-wide announcements. The Email function in D2L allows instructors to communicate with individual students or email the entire class. Learn more using these step-by-step guides from VTAC:

LSC-M Faculty Tips

  • A well-developed plan of communication between instructors and students should be clearly communicated and the instructor should adhere to that plan. An effective communication plan should:
    • The instructor's preferred method of communication – D2L discussion virtual office; email; phone – whatever the preferred method is, it is clearly stated
    • Inform students how often they should log-in
    • Explain to students if the activities are synchronous or asynchronous
    • Communication response time frame (best practices recommend 24 – 48 hours for online learners).
    • Acknowledge student questions in a timeframe consistent with the communication plan and provide answers to questions when feasible in this time frame.
    • Inform students when they can expect their grades to be returned after their assignments have been submitted

Setting the Tone & Defining Expectations

Provide a clear starting point by creating a "Start Here or "Getting Started" module in your D2L course shell. This module should:

  • Provide explicit directions on how your course shell is organized and how to navigate it
  • Inform students how/when to best contact you via email.
    • It is recommended that students use their Lone Star email addresses (either D2L or my Lone Star). By using a Lone Star email address, it ensures that all email communication will be received. Some personal email addresses are quarantined to SPAM and are never received by the instructor. Instructors may forward their D2L emails to their Lone Star email account. Learn more at:
  • Explain how the new online course will differ from the face-to-face course
  • Inform students about how and where to submit assignments
  • Direct students to clear information on technology requirements used in your course (i.e., special software or downloads students may need for the course, etc.) and technical support contact information.
  • Include a personalized instructor welcome or welcome back page
  • An activity/assignment that allows each student to introduce themselves to the class and/or instructor.
    • An instructor may consider a discussion post. This will provide students who are new to the online learning environment an opportunity to practice this student to student activity and create a sense of community. It may even allow the instructor insight to their students' online experience, mental state, and strengths/weaknesses. 
    • Suggestions for COVID-19 Welcome Discussion Posts
  • Include accurate information on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) statement and provide information on how students may receive accommodations with a link to the Disabilities Office Accessibility services contact information
  • Include counseling information and student services information LSC-M Success Resources

How Do I Establish Office Hours Online?

  • Schedule a recurring meeting in
  • Copy the meeting link.
  • Create a module in D2L titled “Virtual Office Hours”.
  • Create the link in the module with instructions to students on when the meeting(s) will be available.

Alternative Method

  • Schedule a recurring meeting in and enter an email address for each student so they will get an email invite to the meeting.

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