Communication Plan

Communication Plan

Routine Tasks for Instructor

  1. Check email daily.
  2. Respond to emails within 24 hours.
  3. Make presence known in all discussions and posts.
  4. Monitor all posts and discussions to provide guidance, insure proper use, and that students stay on topic.
  5. Contact individual students to check on progress, answer questions, or address concerns.
  6. Assess student’s work in a timely manner with appropriate feedback.

Routine Tasks for Students

  1. Check email daily.
  2. Stay active in all discussions.
  3. Respond to posts in a timely manner.
  4. Communicate professionally and responsibly.
  5. Turn in all assignments in a timely manner.

Classroom Building and Communication

It is crucial for a successful online classroom to have a plan for building a classroom community. Discussion begins with the instructor providing activities to encourage student involvement. There are several strategies that can be implemented to help the teacher in creating a classroom community. In order to feel comfortable in any kind of forum, students must be introduced. This is where the icebreaker activity comes in to play.

Activities for Discussion Forums


Activity   “One Question”  (Original)

Once a month have one student come up with and post a non-academic question that everyone must respond to. An example of a possible question could be something like, “What is the best thing you ever tasted?” or “What was the most dangerous thing you have ever done?” Each student must respond to one post and each student must receive a response. The instructor could also join in to help build the relationship between instructor and student.

Activity  “Googlism”

Have each student go to Googlism  website and type in their name. Your name will come up with neat sayings and information. For example when Melodee is typed in the results are:

melodee is told by dolores leddy
melodee is the space station coordinator
melodee is 37
melodee is located in the heart of minneapolis and services the entire twin cities of minneapolis/st
melodee is located in the heart of minneapolis and kansas music teacher association
melodee is also a highly talented stunt artist
melodee is not going away entirely
melodee is a licensed california real estate salesperson

The list goes can go on and on. Have students pick the first ten and post them then have the other students guess if any relate to their classmate. The students will then divulge if any of the information pertains to them. For example: Melodee is 37, however she is not a highly talented stunt artist.

Critical Thinking Prompts

In order for students to reach a higher level of thinking, the teacher must prompt critical thinking skills. Listed are some ways to help encourage critical thinking.

Encourage students to see the “bigger picture”

  • How does this idea relate to other ideas or issues?Have students use details when posting and ask for examples.
  • Can you give an example to back up your assumption?
Encourage students to think about their to post, either initially or in response to someone else. Do not post something you have not thought through.

Elaborate on ideas by asking students to clarify

  • What do you mean when you say…?
  • How does this relate to the bigger picture?
  • What is the main point? Assert why you think that is the main point?

Ask students to evaluate their post before they post it.

Encourage students to explain their answers.

  • Are there preconceptions that could sway your answer or thinking?

Management Issue and Strategies

As in a traditional classroom where management help quell discipline issues, a good management strategy can do the same for issues in an online classroom environment.

Possible Issues

  • Flaming
  • Inappropriate language
  • Lack of participation by one or more students
  • “Hogging” of posts or discussions by one or more students
  • Getting off topic


  • Have students review the rules of Netiquette.
  • Call or email a student to approach the subject of behavior or participation.
  • Create a rubric for students to refer to to stay on topic.
  • Instructors monitor the posts and discussion and make their presence felt by adding to the discussion.
  • Instructors can get students back on topic by joining in the discussion and prompting students.

Online Discussion Rubric









Stay on topic with the content being discussed while using proper spelling and grammar. Utilized proper netiquette.



Post is meaningful and stays on topic throughout post. No spelling or grammar mistakes. Proper netiquette is exhibited.



Post is may lack some thought but mainly stays on topic. Two or fewer grammar or spelling mistakes. Proper netiquette is exhibited.


Post either lacks meanin  or does not stay on topic, and /or there are three or more grammar or spelling mistakes. Or proper netiquette is not exhibited.



Respond meaningfully to at least three other posts


Three or more responses that are meaningful and stays on topic throughout post.


Three responses that are meaningful and mainly stays on topic.


Did not post three responses or three responses that either lacks meaning, or does not stay on topic.



Post and respond in a timely manner.



All Posts are turned in early or on time.


Most posts are turned in on time.


Posts are not turned in on time.


Module 1 Wiki Icebreaker


Using a wiki is something that I have never done until this assignment. I was remarkably delighted at how easy this was to use for collaboration. At first my mind could not understand how we could collaborate in “real time” being used to using email and text to collaborate and create. Even though I use technology everyday, I am still surprised that there is so much I didn’t even know was out there and what it can do.

In my classroom I have used spreadsheets to have students create such things as class databases, and encyclopedias. But here even the information had to be emailed or downloaded to add it to the main spreadsheet. Wiki’s could be the answer to this problem. Through a wiki students can collaborate without having to wait for someone to send an email or download their work. It could also be used for collaborative presentations for the same reasons mentioned above. I believe that for things like presentations it could cut down on confusion and help with duplicating ideas or other elements because students can deal with it quickly and work as a team. I believe in the classroom it would remove much of the frustration that goes along with collaboration sometimes.

It also helps show who is collaborating and who is not.In the article it showed the percentages of what people where doing what task. I like this idea because as a teacher it helps me with intervening if I see someone slacking and as well as grading. I would allow my secondary students to decide on which role would go to what person in the collaboration and then follow who is doing what and to what amount. This really helps with complaints from students when someone is not pulling their weight, or if someone is monopolizing the work.

Learning how to use a wiki has been a real eye opener for me. I am excited about using the tool in my classroom, which is somewhat humorous considering how intimidated I was the first time I read the assignment. I could not even picture how this was going to work. However, when I started to get in there and work, I had to laugh at myself for being overwhelmed by something that was really so simple to us. I believe that my students would not have near the anxiety or any at all. Overall, I cannot wait to try this tool in my classroom.

Tone and Voice Reflection

Melodee Sweeney

Reflection and Summary

Edtech 523

Tone and Voice

From the tone and voice activity we took part in this week there are a couple of voices and tones that can be picked out from the forum. Students took all roles from those of a high school students to old cranky school board members. I took the role of a pro parent in favor of using social networks in school. I tried to use a reflective guide voice with a neutral tone that was analytical as well. I tried to bring to light how social networking is a part of daily life and is crucial for students to be familiar with this tool.  There were also those who took the voice of a personal muse, meaning there was an inward reflection. It was presented mainly in a neutral tone.  As of right now, I have no discussion boards with students.

One main thing that I will pay attention to more in future discussion will be tone. I think as a teacher a tone can be crucial to nurture discussion. I think this is important so that students will feel more comfortable expressing their own voice in tone without fear of being embarrassed or wrong.

Transformative Learning

As a class we were also required to read chapters 7 and 9 in the Palloff and Pratt book. The discussion this week was based on transformative learning and how it is the key to take a student from participant to reflective learner. It made me realize how important reflection is for growth in learning. This makes room for self realizations and helps create a classroom where the teacher is placed in the role of facilitator.

After doing the readings, I had a really hard time at first trying to come up with ways to create a transformative learning experience in a traditional classroom. But then I remembered Edmodo, and how I utilized it in discussion forums in my class. I would also have my student do journal entries and share any insights they had with the class at a later date. I was not aware that transformative learning is what it was called. I love it when I learn that things I do in class are legitimate.


Social and Instructional Discussion Boards


This week I also learned the difference between social and Instructional discussion boards. And while the difference is plain to see, it is something I had never thought about compartmentalizing, at least not in the forefront. I have little experience with conducting discussion boards, I have done it once or twice for my class, but not on a regular basis as in an online class environment.  It is plain to see why both are important. Social discussion boards are important for building classroom community. This is where students get to know each other on a personal level. Instructional is just that. It follows the content of the class allowing students to hold academic discussions.

Wiki Collaboration

In this module, we also had to collaborate on a wiki. The one that I chose was K12 online community building and collaboration.  Our group started early and I am glad we did. We had not problem meeting and planning what was to go on our Wiki. Sometimes it was an issue of information overload. There is so much out there in the way of tools that can be used for building online communities.


Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: effective strategies for the virtual classroom (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Reflection Module 2 Building Classroom Community

Melodee Sweeney

Reflection and Summary

In this module we had to read about building classroom communities and how important creating a community in an online classroom is to student success. After the reading on the background information about building communities we had to outline some principles for effective online instruction.  The principles that I can up with were:

1. Online Learning Should Be Effective – It should accomplish the goals set forth.

2. Online Learning Must Be Inclusive – To all students, no matter the handicap or learning style.

3. Online Learning Should Encourage Community Within the Virtual Classroom – Community is what creates a successful learning environment, be it traditional setting or virtual.

4. Online Instruction Should Be Motivating – It should keep students interested and wanting to learn.

I really enjoyed reading my classmates principles as well. All had really good insight and touched on things I had not thought of.

We also had to join a group to work on a certain topic and create a wiki. I chose K-12 Collaboration and Community Building Guidelines. I have to say I really like the group I am working with. We are getting an early start by already having had our first brainstorming session using ThinkBinder. We had some trouble with all four of us trying to use the video feature, but one of my partners, Adam, was quick on his feet, so we collaborated in ThinkBinder while discussing it over Skype. Which brings me to another guideline, flexibility. I have really enjoyed getting to know this group and I look forward to completing this project with them.

I have to say that during the first module, I was really intimidated about using Wiki’s, but since then have grown to love them. I am helping my sister in law who is also in education, write guidelines for her professional development seminar on nutrition in schools. I suggested instead of emailing, using a wiki. It was the first time she had ever used the tool, and I felt incredibly useful. So I have grown to love the wiki, and I am grateful I learned how. I can see how it will be a useful tool in the future.




Online Learning

1. Online Learning Should Be Effective

In order for online learning to be successful, it must be effective.  Curriculum delivered online must be engaging, and must take into account the lack of face-to-face interaction (Anderson & McCormick, 2005).  In order to make online learning effective, activities must be planned in a way that will lead students to the desired goal. One way to do this is to remove extra useless design elements that do nothing to promote learning and instead concentrate on creating a rich, effective, learning environment. (Brown & Voltz, 2005) It is important to allow the students to be active in their learning instead of reactive in nature, by strictly following a prescribed learning road to take. There must be a focus on using computers and other forms of technology to facilitate learning.  Frustration by the student will impede the learning process so in order for online learning to be effective it must be functional, user friendly, visually appealing, and easy to navigate (Palloff & Pratt, 2007).  Students must learn with the computer, and not from it. In order to be effective, it must not be too complex in order to reach the desired objectives.

Anderson, J., & McCormick, R. M. (2005). Ten pedagogic principles for e learning. Onsight: Observatory for New Technologies and Education, Retrieved from

Brown, A., & Voltz, B. (2005). Elements of effective e-learning design. The International Review of Research in Open and Distant Learning6(1), Retrieved from

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities. (pp. 96-97). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

2. Online Learning Must Be Inclusive

Inclusion in this instance is meant not as community building, but more to address the needs of different types of learners. Online education must take into account the different ranges of the online learner. Just like in a traditional classroom, there are students who are at different levels academically due to cognitive, or physical limitations.  An online instructor must take into account students with learning disabilities as well as the gifted and must make an online environment that is inclusive, or in other words, differentiation online.  The online classroom lends itself to differentiation when set up correctly. A certain objective can be presented in a variety of ways online. Through pictures, or video as well as written word helps to cover the gambit of different types of learners. There must also be consideration fro students with disabilities (North, 2002).   A student who has a hard time hearing might have issues listening to a video clip that an instructor has put into a lesson. The instructor must remember to make adjustments so if that is the case, that student can participate as well. Busy, or over done webpages can confuse students who have a hard time processing information. Instructors should contact a student they believe are struggling from a possible disability to see what the area of concern is, which gives the instructor a better idea of how to move forward to help the student (Bart, 2009). Students may be more comfortable and become more outspoken in an online environment without the fear of ridicule, and therefore have a better educational experience than in a more traditional setting. However, some students may not thrive since learning online takes a certain amount of self motivation. In these cases, the traditional classroom may serve them better (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). When considered, these outliers can be taken into account to create a more inclusive learning environment.

Bart, M. (2009). Reaching online students with learning disabilities. Faculty Focus, Retrieved from

North, R. (2002). Fostering inclusive online learning environments for students with learning disabilities. (Master’s thesis, Memorial University of New Foundland, St. Johns)Retrieved from

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities. (pp. 6-7). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

3. Online Learning Should Encourage Community Within the Virtual Classroom

Having a classroom community is a vital part in a student’s educational journey. Be it online or in a traditional classroom, the relationships between the instructor and students, and between the students themselves help foster educational success. It is especially important to build a classroom community online since there isn’t any face to face interaction. It is on the instructor to begin the class by creating steps for community creation. Tools such as icebreakers and collaboration are some ways to give students the opportunity to get to know their  “classmates”.  Community is so important in order to create a positive learning environment, especially for those who are more introverted. These students have a tendency to be isolated, and since online learning can easily support isolation, it is important to establish community early on in the course in order to have a successful experience (Palloff & Pratt, 2007).

Achieving this goal can be challenging. Teachers can no longer look and see who is bored, or not understanding the material. Students must feel as though they are a part of  the community so that they are comfortable with asking questions and airing concerns. The tell tale sign of a successful classroom community online is whens students take conversation beyond just the academic and reach a personal level with their classmates, such as talking about work, kids, etc.… (Anderson & Misanchuk).

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities. (pp. 30-33). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Anderson, T., & Misanchuk, M. (n.d.). Building community in an online learning environment: communication, cooperation and collaboration. (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University)Retrieved from

4. Online Instruction Should Be Motivating

A rule of thumb to take into consideration as a teacher in a traditional classroom is that if you have a lesson that engages the student and achieves the required outcome without technology; don’t add it for technology sake. The online classroom is based on technology so as an online educator instruction must be innovative to provide reasons why learning online and using technology is just as effective and relevant and that there is a reason and a benefit for the use of technology (Anderson & McCormick, 2005).   One such reason for the use of technology is the ability to give immediate feedback to students after an assignment. In online course quizzes or assignments can be given and once submitted, scored with immediate feedback with information about which problems or questions was missed with an explanation as to why and how to fix it. This type of feedback can be found in K12 online learning institutions such as Florida Virtual. With immediate feedback available students will become more engaged in the curriculum, they feel more involved in the learning process when they do not have to wait a week for summative assessments (Hiltz, Shen & Swan). Now there are some instances when formal assessments make take time to return to the students, but through classroom discussion boards, which are another example of innovative uses of technology in a classroom, students get peer feedback, suggestions, and support on a much broader scale than in a traditional classroom.  Being able to supply students with the individual tools needed to gain knowledge on their own terms, is another example of innovation. Not only are the immediate feedback from work essential, but also the communication between teacher and student. Unlike traditional classrooms, students can get specific attention from their teacher (Kim & Lim, 2003).   By using email and online communication may students who can be intimidated by an authority figure such as a teacher and help to build a relationship through technology.

Anderson, J., & McCormick, R. M. (2005). Ten pedagogic principles for e-learning. Onsight: Observatory for New Technologies and Education, Retrieved from

Hiltz, S., Shen, J., & Swan, K. (n.d.). Assessment and collaboration in online learning. Retrieved from

Kim, D., & Lim, H. (2003). Motivation and learner characteristics affecting online learning and learning application. J. Educational Technology Systems31(4), 437. Retrieved from retention articles/Articles/Lim_Kim_MotivationOnline.pdf.