One of the advantages of having an online course site is that you can better organise your communications with students—and save time. By putting announcements and other types of messages on the site for your students, you avoid having to repeat messages to students individually.
Moodle communication tools
Announcements—the Moodle news forum
You can use these tools for one-way, teacher-to-class communications such as welcoming your students and explaining how your course will work, alerting students to upcoming events or changes to your course. As well as text, you can upload audio or video announcements. This is particularly useful when you have a complex course site, as you can explain and show the students where to find the various components. Be aware that students cannot reply to announcements—if you require them to respond, direct them to the appropriate tool.
Discussion—the Moodle forum
Discussions are ideal for class group interaction around course related material. You can organise your discussion board into different forums. You can add other forums such as "Feedback on this course", "Course related issues in the media", "Class virtual coffee shop", which can enhance the students' sense of belonging to a community. You can set up a "Help" forum where students put their course-related queries, rather than emailing you. This way students can answer each other's questions, and the whole class gets to see the answers. This can be compiled into an FAQ list for future classes.
- In Moodle, you can use Voice Thread.
Blogs—see Blogging in Moodle
You might like to start a course blog so that the class can record ongoing thoughts and issues in the course. You could, for example, post a summary at the end of each course topic (or delegate this task to students) and students could then post comments if they wish to clarify or add something. This would then provide an excellent revision tool before exams. You could also set up blogs where individual students can publish research findings or course reflections, and encourage other students to review and comment.
Emails—see Communicate with students
Sometimes you may want to send an email (rather than using an LMS's internal message facility) to ensure that a message reaches people as soon as possible. Moodle enables you to send an email to all participants (or specific groups of users) in your course. The email goes to the participants' UNSW email addresses.
Chat—see the Chat instructions
In general, chat tools are not recommended for teaching large groups of students, as the format does not lend itself to expressing complex ideas in long contributions or following threads of discussions. It is better used with small groups and can be helpful for something like a quick Q&A session, or a quick planning session with a few participants. In group work, a chat tool can be useful to coordinate activities or quickly resolve issues if the group has trouble meeting face to face.
- Gilly Salmon's E-moderating book.