Essentials of Effective Course Communication

The News Feature

The news tool facilitates student-faculty communication without wasting valuable face-to-face time with excessive classroom announcements. Since the news feed stays on the homepage (unless the student exports it), the news feature reduces email clutter and student anxiety that they accidentally placed your last email with assignment instructions in their junk folder.

You can use the news tool for a variety of purposes:

  • Prepare students for each class period by explaining what topics will be explored in the next lesson.
  • Remind them of important due dates and thereby reduce the likelihood of missed assignments
  • Post classroom announcements, reminders, and administrative information



The news feed as advertising agent. 

The news tool likewise provides you an opportunity to engage in suggestive advertising.  Whether you’re selling cars or trying to get students to do their assignments, you want to make it as easy as possible for the “customer” or student to do the thing you want them to do. So, include links to appropriate assignments in your news and suggest to your students that they should “click now!

You can program these course announcements to display at certain times using Intelligent Agents, so again, you don’t need to baby-sit your course. Just set up a few announcements, set a release date, and you’ll appear like a VERY active and engaged instructor.  If you teach the class again, you won’t need to rewrite everything, just change the dates around.


Take Action

To Add a News Item

  1. Click on the arrow next to the News Widget on your homepage. Then click on the New News Item in the dropdown menu.News item drop-down menu. "New News Item" selected
  2. Give your News item a Headline, and Content. You may write text, provide links to assignments, and upload videos, audio, and pictures. You may also set release conditions, including a start/end date, for the news item. If you choose not to have a start/end date, news content will remain until you add additional material. It will then filter down page, much like a blog.


Go Beyond

Video News

Another way to grab attention and increase student engagement is to create a simple video for your news announcements, instead of text. A video can emphasize you as a person to your students and students report that these types of videos are more engaging than simple text. Check out the “make a video” module for more information.

(created by Lane Sunwall using MacOS 10.10, Kaltura CaptureSpace, screen capture of a PowerPoint 2011 presentation)

As you see in the video above, your video does not have to be “perfect.” Your students are interested in content not polish. Keep your video focussed and roughly 3-5 minutes in length.


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