Communication Plan

Picture of puzzle pieces

“Communication is the responsibility of the communicator. We all have a piece of the puzzle.”

This page details my commitment as an educator to myself and my students in regards to online learning communications.
In addition it acts as a repository for information regarding strategies and guidelines for managing and assessing online communications in a digital learning environment.

The page has initially been organised under these key areas,

  1. Routine Tasks
  2. Critical Thinking Prompts
  3. Management Issues and Strategies
  4. Online Discussion Forum Checklist/Rubric One
  5. Readings and resources

You can scroll through this page or use the list above to jump directly to the required area (if I can figure out anchor links in WP).

1. Routine Tasks

This is a checklist for how I conduct and keep on top of my online learning communications.

  • Log on to course areas first thing in the morning, repeat the follow loop for each course-
    • Check recent activity thread, respond via direct message or post to class as necessary
    • Check content area discussion forums for new posts, respond or post only if discussion requires facilitator input
    • Check online dropbox for any assignment / task submissions, notify receipt and expected feedback date, log in calendar
    • Check following week schedule of activities, send out any notifications or alterations at least a week in advance
  • Check other learning groups (not courses) discussion forums and recent activity
  • Email/call/make contact with at least one parent/guardian every few days

2. Critical thinking prompts

So what is critical thinking? Here is a definition to get you thinking, from the Critical Thinking Community,

Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.

Or if we look at it another way, critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards/frameworks upon them.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.

To implement this in the classroom and online we must regularly teach and direct our students on how to ask critical questions of their learning.  Any of the examples below could be used in both a traditional face-2-face class or in an online discussion:

  • How does this idea relate to other ideas or issues you’ve learnt previously?
  • Can you explain that idea/concept using a tangible example or a metaphor?
  • Why do/did you say that? What personal or life biases might have brought you to that conclusion?
  • Try answering this question as if you were explaining it to a 6 year old, how would you explain it then?
  • What is the key point of your comment there, can you summarise it or order those ideas by importance?
  • Can you explain the logic steps in your answer?

3. Management issues and strategies (for both staff and students)

Attached here are a list of management issues and strategies for maintaining a dynamic, engaged learning community via a discussion forum.  It also includes strategies for students and netiquette related guidelines.

4. Online discussion forum checklist/rubric

Discussion boards can be interactive and engaging for students. However, learning how best to use them can take some getting used to for both students and teachers.

  • Instructors –  take care in formulating open-ended questions that will elicit clear responses in discussion but also set clear expectations about what constitutes an appropriate response. Use a Discussion Board Assessment Rubric to ensure a common understanding of the assessment criteria
  • Students –  must not to be vague in their responses, and check the rubric for each course.

Here is the rubric I will use for most common discussions within my subject area of Mathematics.  Given I teach this course in a blended/hybrid setting the online discussion forums are used for deeper reflection on the traditional face-to-face lessons (f2f). IN addition these guidelines will be included in the syllabus, learning management system (LMS) and discussed with students at the start of each topic. Students will be encouraged to use the rubric to check their postings before submitting them.

Learning Objective:

Students will learn to think critically about the content and skills in Mathematics class lectures, examples and practicals.



Exceeds expectation



Not evident


Follows course guidelines for course discussion:

  1. Student engages in respectful dialogue;
    no flaming.
  2. Subject line is used as a mini-abstract,
    briefly describing content of message
  3. Message is a constructive length – not
    too brief, not too wordy.
  4. Student posts regularly over the quarter.
  5. Student cites sources; sources are
    relevant & appropriate.
Meets 4-5 criteria Meets 2-3 criteria Meets 0-1 criteria
Participates in course discussion:

  1. Student responds to initial discussion point and any additional instructor questions
  2. Student posts original messages or
    questions for further discussion
  3. Student responds to other students posts to agree, disagree, collaboratively building on their reflection / shared knowledge
Meets all three criteria. Meets 1-2 criteria. Does not post.
Demonstrates engagement with and understanding of course content:

  1. Student contributions are thoughtful and relevant to discussion topic
  2. Student reflects on their learning in a meaningful (not superficial) way
  3. Student demonstrates ability to
    appropriately apply concepts and ideas
    from class (readings, lecture, or in-class
    discussions) to on-line discussion.
Comments are
insightful; reflective; shows
understanding of
course concepts.
matches course
concepts to topic
but does not
elaborate; may
show minor misunderstandings
Comments are
too brief/vague
to assess; may
show major misunderstandings

5. Readings and resources

Below are links and further information on the above points of interest.

Assessment / Rubrics



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