"I skip right over those!"
"They're a waste of time!"
I often hear that students don't care about the announcements that many of us take the time to craft and post in our online courses. Many of these perspectives, however, have come from campus students taking online courses who have a very distinct educational experience from our online student populations. First, campus students have a face to face experience even if they are taking a few online courses along the way. Second, their campus-course professors who choose to use I-Learn organize their content in I-Learn very differently from how we organize our online courses.
BYU-Idaho's online learning program puts a lot of stock in the announcements widget, meaning we tell instructors to put a lot of effort into those announcements because it is one of the ways we can communicate presence in our courses. Whether students actually engage or consume those announcements is one of great debate amongst teachers. One year ago, I posted a discussion called "Do Students Watch Our Instructor-Made Videos?" The discussion that ensued among instructors was wonderful! And I am happy to report that my videos have gotten better.
But what about announcements in general?
Does the benefit of posting announcements outweigh the cost of making them?
The only data I have to determine if students read our announcements are the videos I often embed in those announcements. For context, I try create an intro video each week and I keep those videos to three minutes or less. I try to cover important content for the week and infuse my personality into those videos to foster "social presence" theory. Because I post my videos in YouTube I can get view rate analytics on those videos. My experience has been that around 2/3 of my students watch the videos for at least 2 of the 3 minutes. Not great, but at least I know something about the extend to which they consume my content.
What are your thoughts about announcements? I will likely submit an evaluation project request to our on-campus course improvement evaluation team to help us determine "announcement impact" on students, but I am interested in your take.
What return have we experienced from our investment in announcements?