An important part of building community is to develop shared expectations around the type, tone, and frequency of communication between people in the community. When designing your course, you should make sure that everyone understands what communication channels you will use and how, and how often, you will use them.

Online communication can easily end up feeling like a “firehose” of information. Thus, it’s important to streamline communication by limiting the channels of communication you use with your students. These channels should be clearly explained to students in the syllabus and on the first day of class.

Good strategies include:

The easier it is for students to manage the logistics of your course and communicate with you, the more likely they are to be able to be full participants in it. Students who feel uncertain or ill-prepared tend to hang back in group work and class discussions, while students who are prepared are more confident in their interactions with others. Making sure that everyone is able to participate on an even footing is also an important way to promote inclusiveness, which is an essential ingredient in a successful classroom community.

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