In my current Blended/Online Learning course through YU School Partnership, we are using the Moodle Platform https://moodle.org/ as our LMS (Learning Management System). As a course participant, I have the opportunity to play two roles during the ten month period of this course; 1) a student in an online learning course, and 2) a developer of an online course that I would teach to students. Not only am I learning about the benefits of a Blended/Online Learning course and how it works, but I actually get to put what I have learned into practice. By doing so, we are able to learn better as we teach and interact with our fellow participants online.
Between the way our Moodle course has been set up and various course readings, I have had many opportunities to learn about great ways to set up a ways to communicate within a Blended/Online Learning course. One benefit of using Moodle as our LMS is that includes communication tools such as: chats, discussion forums, email, and wikis. This enables the students to communicate asynchronously. As we all know that students learn differently, the various communication tools which are often available in an online learning course afford the students the opportunities to communicate with their online course instructor through the avenue that meets their individual needs and at the time that they are available to do so. Other communication tools that students can use in order to interact with fellow students and their course facilitator include tools such as Google+, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Of course, these are to be used when both the course facilitator and students are available as they are synchronous tools.
During the course of the next few months, I will be developing my online course. I intend to enable various forms of communication in my LMS not only to enable my online students to reach out to me, but to encourage them to reach out to me when they have any questions or concerns. It is up to us, the Online Course Facilitators, to establish the open lines of communication between us and our students in order to give them the best chance of success in their asynchronous learning environment.