ACT III: Communicate with Your Students

Useful for both emergency situations and general course activity, this step provides suggestions on establishing lines of communication with and between your students and colleagues.

arrowGetting Started

Email Students

Through UBC’s Faculty Service Centre (FSC)

UBC Faculty can email students through the FSC by creating a distribution list (Students can add their email address via the Student Service Centre). Log in to UBC’s Faculty Service Centre.  Let your students know:

  • how they can get in touch with you
  • where they can access course materials
  • how they can interact online

Through the Connect Email tool

You can now also send emails directly to your students via the Email tool in your Connect course. See the following resources:

Ask your students to add their email to their Connect profile during the beginning of the term if they haven’t done so before.

Provide relevant information in your course syllabus

Upload your syllabus to your online course space or distribute to your your students via email. If you are on:

Enable your students to communicate with you and each other online

Online discussion boards are available on WebCT and Connect. Create multiple discussion areas to organize conversation topics in your course. Add your TAs and co-instructors as moderators or administrators, allowing them to facilitate discussions or manage settings. If you are on:

Send Announcements to Your Students
You can use WebCT Vista or Connect‘s Announcements tool to send out important information to your class. Students will see new announcements every time they log into your course.  If you are on:

You can also microblog announcements to your students using Web 2.0 tools. Microblogging is a form of blogging that allows users to send out brief text updates (example Twitter allows up to 140 characters) or micromedia such as photos or audio clips using Twitter and/or Facebook. Keep in mind that Web 2.0 tools like Twitter and Facebook are not supported by UBC. Another important consideration is that they are hosted on servers in the United States and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S.’s Patriot Act. See UBC’s Privacy Policy.

Create a telephone hotline.

Turn your voicemail box into a telephone hotline. Simply update your greeting with timely information about the status of your course(s) or campus operations and how students can access your course materials.

arrowSuggested Communication Tools

UBC Supported Tools

  • Blackboard Collaborate – Blackboard Collaborate is a suite of synchronous (“real-time”) communication tools fully supported by UBC that enhance interactivity between teacher and students (and among students) in an the online course environment. It supports text chat, audio chat and video chat. You can also use Wimba as a standalone tool outside of your WebCT Vista or Connect course.
  • Blackboard Instant Messaging (BB IM) – BB IM is an instant messaging tool associated with your courses within Connect. Once you have activated your BB IM account, course participants (e.g. students, TAs) who have done the same will be automatically added to your contact lists. You can facilitate office hours, start screensharing and initiate a Blackboard Collaborate session.

External Tools

  • Skype – This non-UBC service facilitates teleconference calls with up to 25 people at once and instant message chats with up to 100 people.
  • Instant Messaging: There are many free, non-UBC instant messaging services you can use to chat with your colleagues and students, including: Google Chat, Microsoft Windows Live Messenger, Facebook chat, Skype, AIM


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