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SOP - 09 Course Announcements

 REF/ACSST/OPS/SOP/CAN/290515

SOP – Course Announcements

Issue

The Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) capacity for Announcements is an important communication resource. It has the functionality to include text, images, video, external RSS feeds and attachments. The range of communication features, in combination with a powerful notification system that pushes alerts of new Announcements to the “Recent Activity” landing page and to external email, requires that all courses feature consistent operations in the frequency, function and form of course Announcements. (Note: What are now called “Announcements” were previously known as “News Items” in the D2L LMS.)

 Rationale                                                                         

Announcements will feature primarily in Learning Spaces. The frequency, function and form of Announcements will be consistent across all Learning Spaces and their production will be a key shared activity through Teacher Collaboration in the Learning Space. Announcements in the Learning Space have three overarching purposes:

  • To efficiently and effectively disseminate important course information to students.
  • To “humanize” the Teaching Team in a Learning Space and encourage students in the Learning Space to interact with any of the teachers assigned to their Learning Space.
  • To demonstrate to students that they are members of a community of learners within the Learning Space.

It should also be noted that the Canvas LMS allows students to comment on Announcements. This functionality should be used to promote conversations around upcoming course events, assessment activities and other issues related to Announcements.

Announcements not in the Learning Space

Section teachers have the facility to make announcements to their own sections. Pamoja Campus will also feature announcements to subject groups or the entire Pamoja Education (PJE) student body. However, the frequency of Announcements in these other locations must be measured so that students are not overwhelmed by notifications and the power of an individual announcement is not diluted due to the volume of Announcements. The frequency and form of announcements should be such that students see reading them as a priority not an option.

The Landing Page

The Canvas LMS gives options for landing pages in a Learning Space. The “Recent Activity” page will be the landing page in a Learning Space and give students an overview of most of the possible actions in a course including:

  • Announcements
  • Assignment Notifications (Graded work and assignment deadlines)
  • Discussion Post Alerts
  • Conversation Alerts (LMS email)
  • Conference Alerts (Live Sessions in Big Blue Button)

This Landing Page is a likely route for students to view Announcements although announcements can also be seen in the student dashboard portal.

Frequency and Function of Announcements in a Learning Space

There are three types of Announcements that could be made in a week:

  • Weekly Announcement.
  • General Assessment Feedback.
  • Live Sessions Announcement.

Any other form of Announcement would be either due to an emergency (technical issues or content issues) or regarding some urgent event of which students require a reminder notice (e.g. Internal Assessment deadline). The table below indicates the frequency of these Announcements and key items to be addressed in each type.

Type of Announcement

Frequency of publication

Function

Weekly Announcement

Every Week – by teacher assigned in shared activity rota.

  • Engage and encourage students at the start of each week of the course.
  • Introduce relevant content and focus student attention on priorities in the week ahead – especially regarding learning requirements and opportunities.
  • Highlight potential challenges in the week and encourage communication with teachers about these challenges.
  • Draw attention of students to upcoming course requirements beyond the week ahead.
  • “Humanize” the course, familiarise students with the teaching team and increase the likelihood for students to collaborate with the learning space teaching team (beyond their teacher of record).

 

General Assessment Feedback

Week after a deadline for an assessment - by teacher assigned in shared activity rota..

  • Disseminate markschemes, exemplars and/or commentary to all students.
  • Complement individual student feedback from the teacher of record with general feedback that applies to students across the Learning Space.
  • “Humanize” the course with students receiving feedback from the learning space teaching team (beyond their teacher of record)
  • Promote conversation around assessment items.

Live Session

Week when Live Sessions are taking place – by teacher leading the Live Session

  • Promote the Live Session to maximise student attendance and participation.
  • Invite discussion about the Live Session in the Announcement comments.
  • Introduce students to the member of the Teaching Team who will be leading the Live Session.

Form of Announcements in a Learning Space

An Announcement is a form of dynamic communication and so needs to be engaging, concise, precise and coherent. Teachers have an Announcement Template and Checklist (Link) that aids them in achieving these goals. The following basic principles for Announcements apply for all teachers:

  • All announcements will feature a title indicating whether it is a “Weekly Announcement”, “General Assessment Feedback “or a “Live Session Notification”.They will also indicate the week in question (e.g. Week 12).
  • All Announcements will be limited to 150 words and use simple forms such as bullet points.
  • Weekly Announcements will include a list of weekly expectations.
  • General Assessment Feedback Announcements should include resources (e.g. markschemes) where possible.
  • Weekly Announcements and General Assessment Feedback Announcements should include an embedded video from the teacher responsible for the Announcements.
  • Videos may be a screencast recording capturing the teacher’s computer desktop with an audio voiceover and/or a “head and shoulder” video recording in which teachers talk directly to camera. Link to Example Videos

 

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