Today we met for our first Coffee break TIPs discussion; 30 minutes of sharing ways to ensure our students get our essential messages, and how we manage their queries.

Nick Pearce (Senior Lecturer, Integrated Foundation Provision) described how he uses a range of channels to reach his new students:

  • He used mail merge to send a personalised email to all students who had not yet attended; this has prompted a good response from absent students, and has the benefit that he gets their responses: crucial for managing retention.

Facebook page

  • He’s set up a course Facebook page to develop an online community in an informal space where students can ask any questions they may have, share photos, promote events, and he’s also run a few competitions.
  • Running the Facebook page can be a big task, so the course team are considering giving the responsibility to the course students.


We discussed the use of Snapchat and other informal social media channels to connect with students.  These are places in which many are comfortable communicating, but not all students want to use those channels for academic work, or to connect with teaching staff in those places.  And we can’t assume all students use social media.

Blackboard discussion boardSo how about using Blackboard to reduce the number of email queries you get from students? It’s a more formal space, yes, but is this more appropriate for learning?  Colleagues have set up ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ discussion forums in their Blackboard course which are used to ask and answer all course-related questions.  Help and support can be provided by staff or students on the course, and lecturers can share key pieces of information once, and it reaches all students.

coffee and biscuitsWhat do you do to make sure students hear key messages? Do you have tips for making communication clearer, simpler and more manageable?  Share in the comments below, or join us next time in Paragon on 12 October, 10.30 on the Mezzanine. The coffee and biscuits are waiting.



Envelope and megaphone image: Joe The Goat Farmer via Compfight cc