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R-MC Resources for Online/Hybrid/In-Person Learning During COVID-19

Communicating with your instructors

Starting the semester online means you need to get to know your faculty members and classmates through your course syllabi, synchronous Zoom classes, and other technological tools. This is challenging because you can easily misinterpret tone of voice, physical cues, and nuances of expression that help you interpret another person's mood or intent.

This means you need to be more intentional about communicating with your classmates and professors. Here are some tips:

  • Assume the best until you confirm the worst. Give people you work with the benefit of the doubt. Don't assume that a group member is frustrated with you, don't assume a professor is intentionally ignoring you.
  • Clarify and Confirm. Did a classmate's text seem angry? Ask them if there has been a miscommunication. Haven't gotten a response from your professor? Send a follow-up email or message them through Canvas. Don't understand the expectations for an assignment? Ask.
  • Be respectful. Use more formal language when you email your professor than you do when you text your classmates, and address them as Professor ______. Also be respectful when contacting R-MC staff.

Communicating in Canvas


Your professor may choose to communicate through Canvas Announcements. You will want to configure your user settings so that you receive notifications when events occur in your class, such as when Announcements or Discussions are posted. You can receive notifications by email, text or Twitter. Make sure you update your settings to receive updates in a timely manner (once a week probably isn't frequently enough). If you change your settings once, they will apply to all your courses.

You may be asked to use Canvas features like ChatCollaborationsConferences and Discussions. If you are unfamiliar with these aspects, Canvas has a fantastic site to answer your questions and do not be afraid to let your professor know  you're unfamiliar with them.

Communicating with email


Your professor may choose to rely on email. Please check your R-MC email regularly for class correspondence and updates. Campus uses Microsoft Outlook for email, and they offer apps for your phone if you would like to stay more on top of your school email.

R-MC faculty and staff receive a large volume of emails every day. Here are some tips to improve email communication with your instructors:

  • Use the subject line - The subject line is the first item that your professor reads, so make sure it contains your main point. Be specific and concise, so they know what the email is about and how important it is.
  • Address them appropriately - Don’t start the email with a question, or by asking your professor to do something. Be sure to first greet your professor by name and identify who you are. Your instructor has a lot of student emails to read and respond to. Introduce yourself by your full name, as well as the class (and the time of the class) you are taking.
  • Think about the tone of your message - Written messages are often misinterpreted. Read your email out loud before you send it or let other people look at it to ensure that the email is polite and appropriate.
  • Be Brief! - No one likes to read long emails, especially when they’re busy and likely receive many emails throughout the course of the day.

This list was modified from UMass Online (

Communicating with videoconferencing tools

Zoom or Microsoft Teams

Most of the methods of communication above are asynchronous, meaning you're not talking live - there's a delay needed to read. You may be asked to communicate in real-time (synchronously) with your instructor or classmates using Zoom or Teams. The "Checklist" page on this site offers links and help on how to work in both of these tools.

As a student you have access to Zoom via - take advantage of this software! Set up study groups, practice your presentations, hangout with your friends! Your account limits any meetings you create to 40 minutes; but you can simply start another meeting after that time limit passes. 

Microsoft Teams is part of our Office 365. You may use it on the web ( or download the desktop or mobile device App. Teams includes audio and video chat, in addition to other functions.

Some tips to succeed at working via Zoom or Teams:

  • Test your connection in advance, if not daily, then at least a few minutes before your session
  • If you have the option of hardwiring your computer, rather than wifi, use the wired connection
  • If you're using a laptop, plug in the power
  • If you're not actively talking, mute your microphone
  • Using headphones instead of speakers will cut down on feedback
  • Position yourself in a well lit area, and frame yourself so people can see your face well
  • If your video becomes choppy or freezes, mute video and use audio only. If the audio breaks up, leave the meeting and re-join using Phone Call (instead of Computer Audio). 

Modified from Stanford's Best Practices for Effective Video Conferencing: