Day 4: Initiating Communication: Phone Calls

frustrated computer user
Photo by Microsoft Clipart & iStockPhoto

One aspect of online teaching that feels different than face-to-face teaching is teacher-initiated communication with the student. In a face-to-face class, generally faculty appropriately expect students to be responsible: to show up to class, to ask if they need help. In a face-to-face class, it’s reasonable to assume that students can figure out where to find their class, how to open the door and come in, where to sit to participate in class, and how to find their instructor’s office to ask for additional help if needed.

However, students in online courses may not already know how to login, how to contact their teacher, how to get started. Even “tech-savvy” students may not be familiar with the university’s practices and learning management system (i.e. Moodle).

My philosophy is to spend the first two weeks of my online courses working hard to ensure all students understand expectations and are functioning well. This means initiating more communication than may be comfortable for faculty who teach mostly face-to-face. But in my opinion, it’s worth the extra effort, because students are more successful in the class. I have less trouble with incompletes or late work during the rest of the course.

Phone Students Who Haven’t Logged In

Therefore, I highly recommended calling students who haven’t logged in by the third day of class. I usually keep trying every other day or so until they are either functioning or have dropped the class.

  • Find Phone Numbers. Login to the Andrews University Vault
    • Choose iVue
    • Choose View Class Rosters and look up your course.
    • Click Profile next to the name of the student you need to contact. Their phone number should be in the top right.
  • Tips for the Phone Call
    • Be friendly and welcoming.
    • Ask questions. Find out why they haven’t logged in yet and what their plans are.
    • If they have any technical difficulties, transfer them or have them call tech support.
    • Be specific on what they need to do next to catch up.

Usually this is the only time I need to use the phone with my online students. I always offer the option to call me if they need a live conversation, but after everyone is functioning, they usually don’t need it.

Your Turn

Reflect. What do you think about this level of support to your students? What tips or suggestions would you add to this list?

This post is Day 4 of the 20 Day Challenge to Teaching Interactive Online Courses.

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