Announcements can be extremely beneficial in an online classroom setting. They communicate weekly expectations, information that students need to be aware of, or even act as extensions of the syllabus. This is a way to share content that is pertinent to the course or the topics that will be covered in the upcoming week.
It is important to consider how you will use announcements and when you will use announcements. If they are used too often and the information is not meaningful or helpful, students will begin to overlook them or tune them out. I post announcements at other times during the duration of the class, but I do this mid week as this ensures that announcements are not being overlooked due to students being inundated with them.
Each week, I like to begin with a detailed announcements that highlights weekly expectations. I begin with a brief paragraph summarizing main points that will be covered during the week. I use course objectives to develop this introduction to the week. I let student know what we will be covering and what they can look forward to learning about. Then I add a section that describe how the student should prepare for the week. I include readings and resources that they will need to read and review to be prepared. I list this first in the announcement, because students need to complete the weekly readings before they begin participating in the weekly discussions or begin the assignment. Then I provide a section that lists assignments that need to be completed within the week. In this section, I include assignment requirements, tips for completing the assignment, and sometimes I mention resources that can be used to complete the assignment – these I attach at the bottom of the announcement. Finally, a section on the discussion forum requirements is posted. I am sure to include deadlines and necessary requirements to earn full credit in the forum for the week.
Discussion Forum Requirements: Posting an announcement that clearly states the requirements that must be met when engaging in the forums for the week. This includes when to post, what to post, how much to post, etc. Posting a clear announcement that outlines the requirements can help to reduce the number of questions that are asked. It can also be used as a reference when students ask questions or dispute a grade that is associated with the forums. I find that by clearly posting the participation requirements on the first day of class, students are informed, know the expectations, and are set up for success from the start.
Tip: You may consider asking students to read the announcement and respond. You can have them respond with “I understand” or you can direct them to ask clarifying questions so that you can address them in the beginning. This also helps to reduce confusion and ensures that students have seen and hopefully read the announcement.
Important Dates: Sharing important dates, such as days that class is not in session due to holidays can help to ensure that everyone is informed. This will reduce frustration if a student asks a question and does not get an immediate response. In addition, posting the class start date (prior to the class beginning), the course ending date (the week before class ends) or dates when assignments, such as papers that require a bit more planning or group projects that require collaboration are due, can help students with proper planning and time management.
Resources: An announcement can be used to direct students to resources that will help them complete assignments or be successful in the class. You may share information about tutoring services, the library, the writing center, or career services. It is important to consider which services student may find helpful as they progress through the course. Timing is important. Post the information within the week that the resource will be the most helpful.
If students do not look in the syllabus regularly, then they are still able to access information that they need to be successful. I also provide links to resources, websites, readings, tools, videos, etc. that will enhance their learning experience for the week. Remind can also help to reiterate information shared in the course syllabus and in the announcements.