Don’t become overwhelmed by communication and assessment grading in your course. While developing the course remind yourself you won’t be available 24-7 to communicate with students. Figure out ways that work for you to manage the student expectation (experience) that you enjoy and can easily employ.
Look to the Managing Contribution collection of information for details on rubrics, Creative Commons, how to model expectations and the Open Classroom and more.
Each tool you employ can improve your efficiency. Consider using just one new item each semester; get good enough using the tool so that it will reduce your workload.
Employing a tool such as rubrics can reduce your grading time, improve student understanding of what you are looking for and reduce the number of redundant questions in your email in box or the student lounge Discussion thread (if you use one.)
Rubrics go hand in hand with modeling expectations. You don’t have to use a traditional rubric to ensure that a student understands what you are looking for regarding assignment submission.
For a fun look that includes two very different views of rubrics see “How to Kill a Zombie” Prezi under the Make Assignments Interesting for Everyone section.