Communicating with Students

Communicating with Students

It almost (but not quite) goes without saying that faculty-student communication unfolds differently in a remote or hybrid setting. Instructions that might seem crystal clear in person — heads nodding around the room — might be garbled, misheard, or even missed altogether in a Zoom forum. Disruptions to communications can include background noise (the “ping” of incoming text messages, the whine of a lawnmower), discomfort with or failures of technology, and anxiety around remote teaching or learning. If your usual MO is to say something three times in person (i.e.,, on day one, in the syllabus, and a week before an assignment is due), you might need to say it five times online. Also, you might need to say it five different ways. Because clear and frequent communication is a first principle of community building, the previous section offers a number of tips along these lines. Below, we’ve offered a few additional ones that come mostly from our conversations with students and faculty at Colgate.

Try This


  • If you’re not aware of your students’ needs, you can’t be there to meet them, Michelle Pacansky-Brock explains in How to Keep the Human Element in Online Classes, an excellent primer on how to talk so students will listen; how to listen so students will talk.
  • Read more here about Theresa Wiseman’s research on the four attributes of empathy.
  • As this UC Davis article explains, communication is a big part of achieving and maintaining an online presence.
  • Here is some boilerplate language about how to protect privacy and behave like a human being over Zoom. Feel free to add or adapt it for your remote-learning syllabus.