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EdTech 523 Communication Plan

April 2, 2012


This communication plan was created for future use as an online educator.  It was created during EdTech 523 Advanced Online Teaching Methods.  It provides information for both students and educators regarding administrative tasks, discussion forums and assessments, and management issues and strategies.

Part 1: Routine Administrative Tasks

Here is a list of routine tasks that any online instructor should do on a daily and/or weekly basis

  1. Check and respond to email a minimum of once in the morning and once in the evening. (Daily)
  2. Check and respond to discussion boards. May include help forums, feedback forums, assignment forums, and/or social forums. (Daily)
  3. Reflect on the effectiveness of discussion forums and assignments–make changes to course materials after reflection. (Weekly)
  4. Send reminders and/or post reminders about due dates. (Weekly)
  5. Update calendar (Weekly)
  6. Grade assignments, update grade book, and provide feedback (Weekly)

Part 2: Discussion Forum Strategies

Discussion forums are an essential tool for online instruction.  There are many types and each can be used throughout the course. Here are the three I plan on using and their purposes.

Discussion Forum Types

  1. Social Forum– Use this forum to chat with your peers.  Building relationships with your classmates will assist when working on collaborative assignments.  Knowing your peers will also make it easier to respond to their discussion posts and build on knowledge created together.
  2. Help Forum– Use this forum for help with assignment or technology questions. Both the instructor and peers will have access to this forum and peers may provide answers as well. This forum can also be used for professional help or advice.
  3. Main Assignment Forum– This forum will house weekly discussion questions. You are required to complete an initial post and respond to at least two peers.  Remember to provide resources used and provide a detailed, well thought out response.

Personal Statement:

Hello class! My name is Jennifer Anderson and I will be your instructor this semester.  I grew up in Alaska, but currently live in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  My husband and I enjoy the outdoors, especially camping and fishing.  We are also sports enthusiasts and enjoy snowboarding, basketball, and volleyball.  I taught biology in regular classrooms before transitioning into the online classroom.  I received my Masters degree in educational technology and really enjoy teaching and helping students online.  I encourage all of you to be yourselves and participate.  The online classroom can be different for introverts and extroverts, but the more you participate and get to know each other the better the experience.  Good Luck!

Questioning Prompts:

Listed below are questioning prompts retrieved from the November 2000 EduCause article, “Teaching Critical Thinking Through Online Discussions” written by Carol B. MacKnight.

Questions for clarification:

  1. What do you mean by________?
  2. What is your main point?
  3. How does _______ relate to _______?
  4. Could you put it another way?
  5. What do you think is the main issue here?
  6. Could you give me an example?
  7. Could you explain further?

Questions about initial prompt/ question

  1. Does this question lead to other questions of issues?
  2. Can we break this question down at all?
  3. What does this question assume?

Questions that probe reason

  1. What would an example be?
  2. Could you explain your reasons to us?
  3. Are those reasons adequate?
  4. Do you have any evidence for that?
  5. How could we find out if that is true?

Questions about the source

  1. Where did you get this idea?
  2. Have you been influenced by media?
  3. What caused you to feel this way?

Questions about viewpoints

  1. Can anyone see this another way?
  2. What would someone who disagrees say?

Part 3: Discussion Forum Assessment

Discussion Forum Reminders for Students

  1. Summarize the topic/question and include any resources used
  2. Listen/ Read others contributions and ask questions
  3. Share resources and examples related to topic
  4. Help others with questions
  5. Respect peer ideas
  6. Build on information already stated rather than restating it
  7. Avoid piggybacking
  8. Take your time and post well thought out responses

Discussion Assessment Rubric





Timing and Promptness

Post is late; leaves no time for peers to respond before deadline

Initial post completed on time; Allows minimal time for peer response

Initial post completed on time; Allows adequate time for peer response. Multiple discussion occur before deadline

Initial post completed on time; Post completed early to allow for multiple  peer responses; multiple discussions performed before deadline

Summary, Relevance, and Resources

Post is short, and is ineffective at answering the prompt. No resources provided. Relevance to question is lacking

Post response is minimal in content; relevance is small; minimal resources

Post is complete and relevant; provides resources for information

Post effectively answers the prompt, providing a detailed, relevant summary and all resources used.

Contributions and peer responses

Rarely responds to peer questions and prompts; does not ask peers questions

Responds to a small number of peer questions after initial discussion; does not ask probing or relevant questions

Responds to the majority of peer questions,  asks appropriate questions

Responds to all peer questions; asks probing questions of peers

Grammar and Spelling

7 or more errors in grammar or spelling; posts appear rushed

3-6 errors in grammar or spelling

1-2 errors in grammar or spelling

No grammatical or spelling errors; posts are well thought out

Part 4: Management and Strategy Issues

In order to be successful managing any classroom environment, the instructor must be preventative in nature.  Set clear expectations and guidelines for students.  Make them aware of the necessary everyday activities and requirements.  Below are some of the management issues that may be encountered and how I would handle them.

  1. Lack of Interest– To reduce a lack of interest I will choose my questions wisely. I believe in making topics relevant to the class, age group, and topic.  If questions are engaging and can have a personal interest students will be more willing to participate
  2. Lack of Participation– If a student or group is not actively participating enough to meet expectations I would send a reminder of the expectations through email.  This would be done privately as to not embarrass the student, and would provide reinforcement of the expectations.  Contacting them through email may also allow them to communicate a specific problem they are having thus resulting in the inactivity.
  3. Lack of preparation– An effective preventative strategy is to require a summary of the assignment/reading as the first requirement of a response.  Ask students to provide a summary of the reading and then elaborate on a specific question or provide feedback to a peer that uses citations from the reading.
  4. Piggybacking– A solution for piggy backing may be to block peer posts until after initial posts occur.  This would require that students think for themselves first and then are allowed to view
  5. Inappropriate Communication– To address flaming and inappropriate communication I would again send a private email to the student.  I would remind them of the expectations and rules.  This would be the one and only warning.
  6. Time Zones– To address different time zones it is important to provide consistency with due dates and to allow plenty of time for project completion. Due dates should be the same time and day every week.  If you have multiple discussion requirements per week they should be due the same day of the week every week and at the same time.  I am also an advocate for giving students extra time to prepare for a collaborative assignment by opening the assignment up early, possibly over the weekend rather than on a Monday.

Part 5: Netiquette: Expectations for Online Communication

  1. Use correct spelling and grammar
  2. Limit the use of emoticons
  3. Share your opinion and be open to feedback
  4. Be polite and use your manners
  5. Be respectful
  6. Be yourself
  7. No flaming
  8. No spam


  1. Anything you write and send can be traced back to you.
  2. Help your peers by giving constructive criticism not bring them down
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and participate
  4. Do not share personal information

Online Teaching Resources


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