The following material serves as an extension to the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Transforming Teaching Toolkit.  You are encouraged to examine those resources as well.

Introduction: Constant communication with your students is essential in effective online and blended teaching situations. You and your students alike are busy individuals so developing a communication strategy to help you both stay in touch will help to keep everyone on track. There are two types of communication: synchronous (real-time communication) and asynchronous (intermittent communication). It’s great to speak to students in real-time, but it’s not always easy to arrange and so we need to use asynchronous approaches wherever possible. Fortunately, we can leverage many tools and features in onQ to develop and maintain this communication style.

Recommended Actions for Communications
Recommended Action Why How Examples
Welcome students to your course A friendly welcome from the teaching team (instructor and TAs) sets a nice tone for students. It reassures them about what to expect and will help them to answer common questions about content and how to get in touch with you should the need arise. Tell students about the course, about yourself, and set the foundation for what they can expect moving forward. Walk them through your onQ site and how you’ve set up the course. Talk about the assessments, main activities, and how you are available to support them. Point them in the direction of where and how to get started learning.

Use the onQ announcement tool, develop your ‘Begin Here’ section, or even create a short video to share with students.
Check out the Course Organization page under the first row of the table for more information on the Begin Here section and how templates can be used to set this up.

Pierre Bergeron has created a great welcome video for his course. You can view it here.
Start off each week with a message to help students prepare for what’s coming up Sending out a short weekly overview message helps to keep students on track. It also provides another opportunity for students to hear from you. Use the onQ announcements tool. Provide an overview of the week, highlighting the main tasks and activities for the week. Instructions for how to send out announcements and what a good weekly overview announcement might look like can be found here.
Plan office hours Learners lack one-on-one time with their teaching team. Some students will prefer speaking with you directly than over email, especially when they need help understanding a concept from the course. Consider meeting one-on-one, hosting a video call, or reaching out over email to connect with students directly.

Be familiar with privacy guidelines around Zoom records. See this Fact Sheet for more information.
At the start of the course, tell your students when you are available for face-to-face real-time communication. Share this information in your welcome email, through the onQ announcements tool, and post it in the ‘Begin Here’ section of your course content.

Hold real-time meetings with students for Office Hours or for questions using the Zoom Pro web-conferencing system. You will need a computer equipped with a webcam and microphone. 

Note: If you require access to a Zoom Pro account (which allows meetings longer than 40 minutes, or simultaneous connections over 100 participants), please see the Queen's University Software Center to obtain the license key.
Check in on your course daily Checking in on your onQ course will help to flag issues or questions early on. It will also demonstrate to students that there is someone facilitating and available to support them should the need arise. Visit your onQ site each day. You might consider setting yourself some reminders to check on the course in the morning and again in the evening. 
Stay in contact with your TAs Keeping in constant communication with your TAs will help you guide them in their role in supporting your course and students. This communication will help to build your relationship which will encourage them to play a more active role in the course. Send your TA emails to see how they are doing with managing their course responsibilities. Encourage them to have an active role in communicating with students (e.g. preparing and sending announcements, preparing just-in-time content).
Respond to student queries within 48 hours Remember that students can’t speak with you in person like they’re used to. Being responsive over email and in onQ will help them to know you’re listening and there to support them. Checking in on your onQ course and your emails from students on a daily basis will help you to identify questions early on. Responding to these queries right away will help to ease students stress and keep them focused on learning.
Keep your learners informed on important items. These short, just-in-time messages are useful for addressing a class-wide question. They get the message out quickly and are readily available for students when they log in to the course on onQ. Use the Announcements tool in onQ to send out a quick message that you would like all students to look at. A document with instructions for how to create announcements as well as some examples of good and bad announcements is found here.
Provide detailed instructions for all course-related activities Breaking things down step-by-step will help the students to know the process and will help you in planning. In emails or announcements, be sure to provide detailed instructions for students so they know exactly what to do.

Use the description block features when you post content to your course on onQ. Provide clear instructions for what students should do.
Click here for a walkthrough of how to use the description block feature in onQ for content posted in your course.
Stay in touch with learners Creating a strong sense of community and connection with your learners will help them to succeed.

Have a quick check-in with students at the beginning of each lecture.

In onQ use the discussion forum to facilitate discussion with students. Create a Q&A forum where students can post questions. You may also wish to create a ‘Welcome forum’ where students can post a few short sentences about themselves so that you and other students have an opportunity to get to know them.

Create a Welcome Forum using the onQ Discussions tool. More information on how to use the Discussions tool is here.
Encourage and demonstrate good netiquette Sometimes when we are working online, it’s easy to forget there are real humans on the other side of our comments. Demonstrating respect and setting the expectation for a supportive environment will help students to feel comfortable. When communicating with students, encourage them to be respectful of others. Set the expectation at the start of the course, and be sure to always demonstrate this behaviour. The Syllabus Template contains template text about netiquette. You can access the Syllabus Templates in the Instructor Resources course here. If you do not have access, please get in touch so that we can provide it for you.
Understand the guidelines for Streaming Privacy and AODA Compliance It is important to understand how to correctly set the privacy of your videos that have been uploaded to Ensemble in order to protect their copyright. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires compliance with specific rules for videos posted online so that they are accessible to all individuals. This includes captioning for videos. The infographic provides more detail about this. Use the examples column at the end of this row to learn more about, and understand the guidelines for, privacy settings when using the Queen's streaming server, Panopto; and, information about AODA Compliance for videos posted online.

Privacy and Remote Teaching and Learning Fact Sheet

Accessible Virtual Meetings

At any time, you can reach the Engineering Teaching and Learning Team at or via the LiveChat widget found at the bottom of this page with any questions you may have. We are here to help.