Welcoming a new student in your class is one of the best ways to begin creating student engagement in the course they are about to enter. Making that first impression can be an important part of making a connection and setting the stage for the course. Giving the student a snapshot or glimpse of what their next semester will be like will help to prepare them for the experience and help them determine if this really is the right course for them.
First, it is up to you to delivery this letter to the student. The best way would be to review your course roster in UAOnline and send it by email. You’ll also want to include a copy with your course materials just in case you miss someone or the student doesn’t check the email address
What should the welcome letter contain?
Keep the letter to one page and be clear about what the student is about to begin. Include the following points:
What is the class about?
Go beyond repeating the course description, students can read that in the university catalog, why are you excited about teaching this topic? What expertise do you bring to the topic? We know that you are passionate about the topic or you wouldn’t be teaching it! Explain some of the activities that will be done in the class and how some of these might relate to their personal and professional life. What kind of life-long learning skills will result from completing this course?
What is the best and preferred way to contact you? What is your expected response time? What should students do if they don’t hear from you within this timeframe? Do you have virtual office hours? How do you want to communicate with your students? Only through email from Blackboard, only with their UA email? Google+, Facebook, Skype…
Schedules and Deadlines
What are your expectations for a schedule for the class? Are you planning to have weekly assignments due on a specific date each week? or biweekly? Are you willing to provide a more open timeframe with students meeting benchmarks several times in a semester? What is the penalty for missing a deadline? Are you expecting two lessons a week? Will you accept more if a student wants to push through the course early? Will you have synchronous sessions? Will these meetings be optional?
What is your grading philosophy? Your grading scale will be listed in your syllabus, but if you are able to generalize what you expectations are for your students, this can be very helpful.
How does a Student Get Started in the Course
Include material acquisition, technical information, how to “log-in” information, and where to get help if there is a problem.
End with an encouragement and enthusiasm!
UAF eLearning Letterhead in .doc format letterhead-eLearning