megaphoneOne mistake I regret from my early years of teaching online was using too many modes of communication. We have so many communication tools at our fingertips: email, gradebook comments, threaded discussions, facebook, skype, news forums, twitter, text messaging, and the list goes on. As much as our students may use a variety of channels, they need us to choose one consistent method of communication.

Your best megaphone is going to be the simplest of these methods, your learning management system’s class email feature. In Blackboard it’s called the Announcements, and in Moodle it’s called the News Forum.

At the beginning of the semester, ask your students to reply to your first email and let you know they have received it–this way you can verify that their email addresses are correct and that your emails are not getting caught in their spam filter. You can also delegate this work to your TA or to your technical support team (if your school has this service).

Here’s an example of the message our Educational Technology department sends out to every student at the beginning of the semester.

I need you e-mail me at and confirm:

1) That you received this e-mail (and it didn’t go into your spam folder).

You can use this method to identify those students who are not receiving your communications and get corrections made before the semester is underway.