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Aug 8 / Geralyn Stephens

Engaging Online Students: Welcome Letter

Are you receiving email messages regarding your online course from students? Unfortunately, students who registered for the course have no idea what is to happen next. To avoid confusion and delayed starts, one might consider using the WELCOME LETTER as a way to introduce students to the course.

Getting off to a good start is critical to building a strong communication foundation. Several years ago, Dr. Mary Brady, Senior Lecturer, TED/COE, created the Welcome Letter for her online students. It has been recently updated to include more current information.   The Welcome Letter is a cornerstone of the foundation. How it works:

I create a formal letter on university/college stationary. This gives it an official look. Then, I attach it as a PDF file to an email message originating from my class roster within the Learning Management System (LMS).  At WSU, our LMS is Blackboard (Bb). The letter contains the following elements:

  • A statement to thank students for selecting the online course option,
  • A paragraph about when the course will begin and how to access course information.
  • Please consider including an LMS tutorial that might be beneficial for students to complete prior to beginning the course, if you are not including this as an instructional component. At WSU, the student interactive tutorial can be found at:
  • Information about how to contact you with issues or concerns prior to the beginning of class.

Please visit here to download the MS Word document containing my Welcome Letter for Fall 2014. Feel free to make modifications and share with your students in the coming weeks.   The related email message reads as follows:

Hello Everyone:  Just a note to let you know that I am excited about starting another academic year!  And, I am also looking forward to working with you as we explore the area of Educational Technology.  Attached is the course WELCOME LETTER.  It details the next steps.  As indicated, the Blackboard course site will be available on Wednesday morning, at 12:01am.  You may begin course activities then.  In the meantime, enjoy the dog-days of summer!
Your Instructor~
Dr. Geralyn E. Stephens
“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” ― Albert Einstein

Please check back next week for information regarding the next cornerstone: the Online Course Agreement. If you have a related question, please post.