Week 3: Communication

By July 27, 2020April 5th, 2024Smeal Academy Newsletter

Smeal Academy: Fall 2020 Readiness – Week 3

The goal of the Smeal Academy is to equip everyone with best practices and strategies for teaching, learning, and technology to ensure the Smeal community is prepared to respond to the unique challenges of Fall 2020. Between now and the end of July, we will be sending weekly emails with practical tips and information, providing live sessions, and holding virtual consultations.

This week, we share resources that can help you identify strategies and solutions for course communication.

Clear communication with students is critically important. Research indicates that student retention is often directly correlated with how connected students feel with their peers and their instructors (Richardson, 2017). Taking the time to post a weekly Canvas announcement can help keep your students on track and engaged in your course, especially when you may be relying more upon remote instruction. Use Announcements as a narrative to guide students through each week of your course. Supplement those announcements with email as needed for individual communication.

In addition, the way you manage your grading and student feedback is a reflection of your online presence and plays a vital role in student success. Use Canvas tools to provide personalized feedback to students so they can identify what they did well and areas that need improvement. Feedback can be in the form of written comments or audio or video feedback.

Finally, remember to keep the communication two-way. Provide ways for students to give you feedback about what is working and what is not – especially in this unprecedented semester.

Richardson, J. C., Maeda, Y., Lv, J., & Caskurlu, S. (2017). Social presence in relation to students’ satisfaction and learning in the online environment: A meta-analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 402-417.

Current News

A June 30th Penn State Newswire article about race and diversity noted that Marcus Whitehurst, Vice Provost for Educational Equity, will kick off a new three-part series of diversity roundtable discussions titled, “Toward Racial Equity at Penn State: Social Difference, Social Equity and Social Change.” The first part, “Race, Our Campus Climate and Workplace,” will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on June 30 at https://watch.psu.edu/toward-racial-equity/ The other parts will take place on Sept. 8 and Nov. 5.

Helpful Websites

Upcoming Live Sessions: Boost Your Course Using Office 365

  • Office 365 isn’t just Office Suite: Get the most out of your Office 365 subscription with a deep dive into some new features from Microsoft. Join us Wednesday, July 8 from 10 to 11 a.m. via Zoom.
  • Strategies and Tools for Live and Pre-Recorded Course Videos: Are you pre-recording your lectures for Fall but not sure where to begin? Do you have questions about Zoom settings for teaching and learning? Are you curious about best practices for sharing your recordings? This session will focus on tips and strategies for recording, hosting, and sharing recordings from an instructor’s perspective. Join us Wednesday, July 15 from 1 to 2 p.m. via Zoom.

NOTE:  Recordings and resources from previous sessions can be found on our eLDIG  Website.

Tips of the Week

Tip #1: Be clear with students about your communication plans, including setting clear expectations regarding when students can expect email replies from you.Tip #2: Consider making an announcement or providing general feedback to all students about assignments that highlights how the class did overall, demonstrates solutions where appropriate, and provides resources or tips to help students improve and grow.


Ask eLDIG/RIIT – Open Consultations

Zoom Hours:

  • Thursday, July 9, 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 16, 10 to 11 a.m.
  • More to be announced


Check out the eLDIG website for more resources and support.

Contact Us

Email us at: course-support@smeal.psu.edu or fill out our Remote Teaching Support form.