Early and regular communication with your students is more important than ever during remote learning. This guide offers key contact points and ways to help your students get the support they need before the term even begins. If you’re new faculty, make sure to use your Gmail account at mail.pdx.edu. This is also where you can access the Google suite of education applications. If you’re new to remote teaching, please contact the Office of Academic Innovation as early as possible for help preparing your course.

Email Your Students

Approximately two weeks before the start of each term, a Google Group is created for each course in Banner. You can use your class group to email all students enrolled in your course. These groups are maintained for two terms, so when you look for the group email address, make sure to select the correct term.

Send an email to your classlist using Google Groups

The Office of Student Success has created helpful email templates showing information you can provide in an initial email, along with a course syllabus. Don’t wait until your syllabus is absolutely finalized, you can label it clearly as a “draft” and provide as much information as possible.

Email templates for pre-term student contact

Include Student Service Links on Your Syllabus

Throughout the term your students may need PSU services, and providing links on your syllabus is a great way to let them know what’s available. These links include free e-tutoring, disability resources, tech support, library help, and more!

Student Support Services

Disability Resource Center

(Note: For help with your syllabus, check out the Building Your Syllabus article on OAI+.)

Activate Your D2L Course and Open It Early

If you’re teaching with D2L, you have the option to activate your course before the term starts. This can be very helpful for students who may have concerns about course requirements or who are new to online learning. Even if you don’t plan to teach in D2L, it’s where students expect to find your syllabus and course materials.

Change Course Start and End Dates

Activate Your D2L Course: Make It Visible to Students

Post a D2L Announcement and Share Instructor Information

Your D2L Home page is the “megaphone” of your course. It’s very reassuring for students to know that you will post important announcements here, and also provide your contact information. If your D2L Homepage is not configured for this, you can get help from OAI Support, or modify the Homepage “widgets” yourself.

Create a New Announcement

Add Homepage Widgets

Find Out About Your Students with a Google Form Questionnaire

You can create a Google Forms Survey to learn about your students before the term starts. In addition to asking about their academic experience, during remote teaching it’s important to know if your students have any significant constraints on their coursework. 

Create A Google Forms Survey

Schedule an Early Zoom Office Hour Check-in

It can really help students to have a brief “in person” conversation before term starts. This will alleviate anxiety for students who have questions about course requirements or structure. It can also foster engagement and make your first week more productive.

Schedule an office hour in Zoom to do a live check in with your students

Add a Zoom Check-in to the New Google Class Time Calendar

Our Google Calendar now automatically generates events for courses you teach. These are shared with everyone on your Banner roster. You can add your Zoom meeting link as a course event so all your students will see it there. Note: If you’re teaching in D2L, note that Zoom Meeting links can’t be copied from a previous course to your new term “shell.” You must create them directly in the new D2L shell.

PSU’s Google Class Time Calendar

Need More Help?

We'd love to hear from you. Full-service remote support is available to all PSU instructors through the Office of Academic Innovation. Contact the virtual Faculty Support Desk, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Send a Message

Chat with Support Staff

Privacy Preference Center