30 Communication Plans

Successful communication in digital learning environments requires an intentional and balanced strategy. A comprehensive plan is a list or table that will allow you to visualize how you are communicating essential information and ensuring that students have diverse and ample opportunities to reach you when necessary.

Although communication needs vary across courses, some message types – like welcome messages, module overviews, task or deadline reminders, assignment feedback, and opportunities for Q&A – are almost always appropriate.

When making a communication plan, consider the following factors:

  • Consistency. Just as consistent deadlines improve timely assignment completion, consistently named and scheduled introductions, conclusions, and reminders help students get into the groove of the course.
  • Scheduling. Sometimes announcements can be written and scheduled in advance, easing your workload once the course begins and reducing the risk of important messages (such as deadline reminders) falling through the cracks.
  • Synchronicity. Although digital learning environments tend to prioritize asynchronous communication, consider how and when opportunities for synchronous, “back-and-forth” communication (such as a formative feedback or review session) might be helpful.

Impact of audience

As you create your communication plan, consider when it most effective to interact with individual students, student groups, or the whole class. Since students will benefit from each in different ways, you will need to balance opportunities for all three.

The following list identifies common communication types by audience type. Communication types that may be scripted and scheduled in advance have an asterisk.

Whole class

  • Course welcome message*
  • Module introductions*
  • Deadline or task reminders*
  • General performance feedback
  • Course corrections/adjustments
  • Asynchronous and synchronous Q&A forums

Small groups

  • Asynchronous and synchronous group task-related questions & feedback

Individuals

  • Personal concerns and extended questions & feedback
  • Asynchronous and synchronous task-related questions & feedback

Impact of platform

The following table demonstrates how common communication platforms support different types of communication and align more effectively with specific message types.

Announcements

Asynchronous, one-way, class communication

  • Course welcome
  • Module introductions
  • Task and deadline reminders
  • General class feedback
  • Course corrections/adjustments

LMS – Gradebook

Asynchronous, one-way, one-to-one communication

  • Task-related feedback

Email

Asynchronous, multi-way, group or one- to-one communication

  • Course welcome
  • Module introductions
  • Task-related Q&A and feedback
  • Personal concerns and feedback

Video conferencing

Synchronous or asynchronous multi- way, group or one-to-one communication

  • Course welcome
  • Module introductions
  • Whole-group review sessions
  • Task-related Q&A and feedback
  • Personal concerns and feedback

Sample communication plan

This sample plan demonstrates one approach to scheduled communication. The communication type is listed by module and day of the week; the platform used to send the message is identified in parentheses (the abbreviations are listed below the table).

Sunday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Pre-course Course Welcome (A)
Module 1

Module 1 Intro (A)

Task Reminder (A)

Live Q&A (V)

Module 2

Module 2 Intro (A)

Feedback (A&G)

Task Reminder (A)

Live Q&A (V)

Looking Ahead – Midterm (A)

Module 3

Module 3 Intro (A)

Feedback (A&G)

Task Reminder (A)

Live Q&A (V)

Module 4

Module 4 Intro (A)

Feedback (A&G)

Task Reminder (A)

Live Q&A (V)

Module 5

Module 5 Intro (A)

Feedback (A&G)

Task Reminder (A)

Course Survey Reminder (A&E)

Live Q&A (V)

Looking Ahead – Final (A)

Module 6

Module 6 Intro (A)

Feedback (A&G)

Task Reminder (A)

Live Q&A (V)

Conclusion – Wrap-up (A)

Communication Platforms: Announcements (A); Email (E); Videoconferencing (V); Gradebook (G)

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