June 10, 2010
“I am finding your directions very hard to follow and communication with you difficult. Would it be in my best interest to drop this class and take it next semester from a different instructor?”
This is never a good email to receive. I asked him to clarify. I wondered if it was my ability to communicate with him in emails, or response time, or something else. He explained that he was having problems understanding the directions for my assignments. Obviously, as my first online experience, I cannot anticipate all of the clarifications or questions that students are going to have only seeing my assignment descriptions as text. I always have time for questions and answers in my regular classroom and thought about them as a normal and welcomed part of the class.
In a distance learning environment, you cannot take this kind of clarification for granted. I have decided to start keeping better track (on paper, instead of mentally) and cataloging all questions about assignment descriptions. Normally common questions lead me to add something or clarify the assignment description in class—but outlier questions are dismissed. I am positive that there will be some overlap between face-to-face and online questions. In addition, I asked the student quoted above to be specific so that I could make improvement going forward (as I have yet to create the last half of the course).