How to Respond to Student Questions Efficiently

If the question is procedural, such as how to do something in the course management system, create a quick video with an audio explanation to show students how to proceed. Accompany this with a transcript for those who have accessibility or technical issues with the video.

If a student asks a great question via email, and you think other students may also ask the same question, reply personally to the student by email, and ask the student to copy/paste his/her question and the instructor%u2019s reply into the course Q&A forum for other students to read.

If more than one student emails with the same question, then there is a need to respond to the whole group. Period! There is likely widespread area of confusion for the majority in the course. This can be handled by posting a news announcement in the course site, an all-class email, or a Q&A posting on the discussion board. Adding an attention-getting image to a news announcement helps insure that students see it.

If a student asks a question which has already been answered in a news announcement or in the Q&A forum on the discussion board, direct the student to that spot to read the answer. Answering it again by email encourages the student to email when he/she should be checking the course news for answers as step one in problem solving.

If more than one student has a question, there may be an issue with unclear directions or explanations in the course materials. Consider revising the assignment to resolve the problem for next term.

Great Questions

Procedural Questions

Respond to the Whole Group!

Asked & Answered?

Unclear Directions?

Craft Welcome Letter

Analyze the instructor welcome email and the first few news announcements to make sure the preliminary info provides good support for students and minimizes "how to begin" questions as the course starts.

This infographic is based on Time Management Strategies for Online InstructorsTime Management Strategies for Online Instructors, a resource from the UW-STOUT E-Learning Graduate Certificate Program