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If you’re teaching a hybrid or online course, your students are liking using an LMS app on their phone to keep up-to-date on their classes. LMS announcements can be a great way to keep students engaged in your course, since with the app they function similarly to getting a text message or email notification. Here are five ideas for how to use this tool to increase your teacher presence and student investment.
1. Inform Students of Unexpected Changes
I think this is the most common usage for announcements. When something unexpected comes up or students need to know something ASAP, an announcement is an easy way to get the information to everyone at once. Class canceled? Assignment deadline moved back? Broken resource link needs an update? Announce it to students so they are immediately notified of the unexpected change.
2. Create Highlights for the Upcoming Week
Major assignment due next week? More reading than usual to do for homework? Emotionally-difficult topic being covered? Use this type of announcement to give students important context for the upcoming week. I recommend sending this on the last day of the prior week. Perhaps start it with a quick recap of the week, then shift into providing information about the following week. These announcements can help signal to students what they should anticipate from the week to come.
3. Provide General Assignment Feedback
See a pattern in the assignments turned in last week? Either positive or negative? Post an announcement that gives students feedback based on this pattern. They might have received individual feedback already, but adding more general feedback via announcements can show students just how invested you are in helping them succeed. I recommend including a mixture of what went well and what can be improved on, rather than just focusing on the latter.
4. Share Connections to the Wider World
See something discussed in the news that relates to your course? Learn about a local event happening soon that ties into the course content? Listen to a podcast episode that provides an example of a course topic even better than your own? Share these resources or insights with your students! Help them to see how relevant the course is to the world around them. Ask them to share their own finds in an optional discussion forum. Connect, connect, connect.
5. Offer Helpful Hints or Extra Credit Opportunities
Students not reading your announcements? Well, perhaps pop into their notifications feed with an announcement that offers a hint for an upcoming exam question. Or a time-limited extra credit opportunity. Perhaps a resource that can help when reading through a homework assignment. By announcing these helpful tidbits at random, students might start paying closer attention to the announcements you provide. Plus, they will hopefully appreciate the extra help you are taking the time to offer them.
If you’re teaching online asynchronous courses, I really think using LMS announcements can help students feel your presence more strongly, which can help them feel just how invested you are in them and the course experience. Even if you are teaching in person, I recommend trying out these announcement strategies. The more connected students feel to you, the more likely they are to reach out for help, the more likely they are to succeed in your course, the more likely they are to write positive evals. A win on multiple levels.