EPD - Instructor Welcome Message: Creating a Positive Presence in Your Online Course
A welcome message, usually sent via e-mail and/or posted in the course discussion forum several days before the course begins, contains orientation and “housekeeping” information that is often presented during the first day of a traditional, face-to-face course.
A friendly and detailed welcome message will:
- help students become familiar with the instructor and the course;
- help ease any anxiousness about taking an online course;
- give students the feeling that you are accessible, approachable, and a real person;
- set the stage for continued, positive interactions between you and your online students, and
- save you time by not having to field multiple emails with questions from students.
A welcome message is usually separate from the course syllabus, which contains more detailed information about the course expectations, learning objectives, due dates, course policies, assignments and assessments. See an example welcome message.
Welcome Message Components
- Introduce yourself, the course, and the purpose of the welcome letter/message. You may choose to link to or include more biographical information here; otherwise be sure to provide a little more background about yourself in an initial discussion forum.
- Provide a brief overview of what the course is about and how it will connect to their lifelong learning.
- It is important to clearly state “this is an online course.” Be sure to explain if there will be any required in-person class meetings or required synchronous web conferences, for example, for a group presentation or final exam.
Organization & Structure
- Provide an overview of the course navigation and structure, high-level description of major projects or components of the course. Refer to the syllabus for complete details about the course expectations.
Contacting the Instructor
- Include your preferred method to be contacted, also list office hours and expected timeframes for responses. Consider weekends and holidays and how you will manage responses.
Dates and Time Commitment:
- Include information about the duration of the course, specific start/end dates, and expected time commitment per week.
Textbook or Required Resources:
- This information should also be included in the syllabus.
- List any and all technical requirements for the course in one place. (For example, do students need a special calculator or software?)
How to Access the Course
- Include information about the Learning Management System (LMS) and how to access it.
Support & Troubleshooting
- Let students know that technical assistance is available provided by EPD Tech Support and DoIT HelpDesk. Technical support information is provided on the course home page.
Next Steps or Tips for Success:
- Explain how students can be successful in the course and the online environment, and how to get started.
The following example may be used as a template for your own welcome message. Edit and personalize as necessary to fit your course.
Good afternoon, and welcome to your EPD378 - NSRL course!
My name is Bucky Badger and I will be your instructor for the course. I am looking forward to working together and getting the semester started of strong. I want to welcome everyone, and I would encourage you to post a short informal hello message in the "Personal Introductions" discussion forum just to let me know you received my welcome message, and to briefly introduce yourself to your fellow classmates.
Although the official start date for the course is not until Monday, August 31st, all students (who have officially registered) now have access to the EPD378-NSRL UW-Madison Moodle course site, so feel free to start exploring a little bit of your online learning environment—All details of the course can be found within the online course site, syllabus and lesson files. I also wanted to take a moment to post a couple of points as we get started.
The flow of our online course uses a mix of asynchronous (not live/own time), and synchronous (live/real-time) learning activities. This course will have regular weekly assignments due, scheduled live class sessions (via web conferencing), weekly text discussions via the course discussion forums, as well as readings and course materials that each of student is required to keep on top of each week. This is not a self-paced course. Each student must manage their own time each week, to know when assignments are due, and any other weekly course obligations, and all students move through the course together each week. This will involve regularly logging into the online learning systems to check forums, communications, monitor your UW email address, and virtually interact with classmates, team members, instructors, and course materials.
At this point, I suggest the following actions:
- Begin to familiarize yourself with the UW-Moodle learning management system and the EPD378 course site, which can be accessed here: https://coursedashboard.learnuw.wisc.edu
- Make sure to look at the course calendar in our online course site for the scheduled live web conference dates/times, as well as assignment due dates, so you can plan your semester accordingly and get those dates in your professional calendar.
- We will have our first live web conference on Wed/Thurs this week, so you’ll need to be sure you can access our web conferencing system. Note the Web Conference Access link at the top of the course site.
- Read through the Syllabus so you know the rhythm of course, and what is expected. This can be found at the top of the EPD378-NSRL online course site.
As you get started, I'll answer any questions as they arise, or point you to our tech support forum for more technical questions. Please post your specific questions about lesson 1 in the Getting Started forum, and also feel free to post general questions or comments to the "Main Discussion Forum". I will post a Lesson 01 information message on Monday, the official course start date.
I look forward to working with you this semester and getting off to a strong start!