Announcements are one of the first things your learners see when they enter your course. Announcements can provide timely information for your learners about class activities and time-sensitive material. Announcements can be used to remind learners of assignment and/or test dates, post changes to the course, announce upcoming events (such as a guest speaker), etc.
You can post multiple announcements when setting up your course and select a specific day for the announcement to be displayed by choosing staggered future start dates. For example, you know now that you want to post an announcement about the midterm exam and another about the final. Write both announcements now, but set the midterm announcement to display the week before the midterm and the final exam announcement to display a week before the final. Students will not be able to view either announcement until its assigned start date.
When creating an announcement, you should set an end date for it so that when the information in the announcement is outdated the system will retire the announcement. Setting an end-of-semester date for announcements is good practice if you are planning to copy your course into another course in an upcoming semester. This will force you to update the announcement start and end dates in the course you are copying to. Thus reducing the possibility the system will display an announcement before you want it to.
You can use Quicklinks within the announcement to direct students to a particular section of your course. You can display (release) announcements based on conditions you choose by using Release Conditions.
Consider using Video Notes (built-in media recording tool in Brightspace) or your favorite video sharing service to create video announcements for your learners.
In the Faculty Focus article, Building Community and Creating Relevance in the Online Classroom, Amy Erickson and Catz Neset suggested creating video announcements as a way to build community in your online courses. Their formula for successful announcements are:
- Provide an introduction each week and share your availability
- Give feedback and answer questions from the previous week
- Showcase exceptional student work from the previous week
- Highlight the objectives of the coming week and any special preparation or required resources
- Connect your coursework to relevant current events
In another Faculty Focus article, Using Announcements to Give Narrative Shape to your Online Course, Dr. Nathan Pritts suggests using announcements to create a narrative that increases student engagement. He starts the semester by letting his students know that he will post around three announcements per week—on the first day of the week (to kick things off), then about three days later (positioned to help motivate and encourage forward progress), and finally, at the end of the week (to provide some closure and open a channel for any last questions). He labels the subject lines of his announcements so students can process and sort them at a glance. For example, some labels that he uses in the subject line are Course Policy, Instructional Content, and Dig Deeper. He uses the announcements as a roadmap to help his learners navigate the course.
Dr. Mark Gstohl uses video announcements in his courses. In the video announcement, he gives his students a tip that will help them with an upcoming assignment. He also uses humor in his announcement which goes a long way to building a rapport with his students.
If you make your videos generic (i.e., don't reference the semester, time of year, seasons, day of the week, etc.), you can re-use the announcements from semester-to-semester. That way you don't have to worry about recording when you are having a bad hair day. 😀
Follow these steps to do it.
Watch this short video for instructions on creating announcements:
Want more information?
Post Course Announcements
Announcements Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Announcements - Create an Announcement - Instructor (video)
Teaching Tips - Make Regular Announcements - Instructor (video)
Brightspace Tip #164: Quicklinks
Brightspace Tip #237: Release Conditions
Brightspace Tip #299: Video Notes
Brightspace Tip #320: Video Notes – Closed Captions
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