Effective Ways To Welcome Online Students (With Templates)


If you are looking for a way of making your students feel welcomed when they first attend your online course, you’ve come to the right place. This article will show you effective ways to welcome online students and then save you time by giving you the email templates. 

When you welcome online students you will always wrap that in a welcome email so we will discuss the layout of your welcome letter and then introduce the effective methods inside each section. Finally, we will then save you time and provide the email templates.

The best ways to welcome online students are:

  • Welcome Letters
    • Course Schedule
    • Aim Of The Course
    • Resources
    • Technical Support
    • Contact Methods
    • Instructions For The First Meeting
  • Introductory Videos
  • Student Forums
  • Group Communication Tools
  • Welcome Webinars
  • Introduction eLearning
  • Email Templates

Now you know what the best ways to welcome online students are. Let’s find out what you have to know before choosing out one specific method.

Welcome Letters

Welcome letters are the most popular way online students are welcomed and are sent normally via email these days.  This email is you on a plate and should not only provide basic information but also give the students all the resources they need.  Done well they make the students feel included and part of the university and done poorly leave the student confused and not knowing what comes next.

Below there is a list of the common items that are added to welcome emails and letters.  We will go through each and see where we can add more student engagement and make them more effective.

Course Schedule

Depending on the course you are running it is always wise to provide the student with their course schedule it has already been allocated.  If they have to first select their subjects then this section should be replaced with where they enroll in their subjects for their first semester.  Alternately, a link to where they can pick the class times for the classes they are enrolled in.

Goals Of The Course

It is important that your students have a clear understanding of the goals they are working for. It is a great idea to list the course goals in the welcome letter. The goals should emphasize the competencies that your students will learn during the course.  Make sure everything is clear and concise and provides them a great “Big Picture” view. 

Resources

This should bullet point the resources that are available to students during the course with something like the following.

Example List

  • Student Support Officer
  • Library Services
  • eLearning Available
  • Student Social Groups
  • Student Handbook
  • IT Helpdesk

Technical Support

It is very important to provide your students with technical support during the course. Difficulties related to technology are one of the most common reasons why students drop out of online courses. 

To learn more about why students usually quit online classes, I suggest reading the following article:

ARTICLE: 11 Reasons Why Students Drop Out Of Online Courses

Contact Methods

There is really no reason for not being contactable for either administration and teaching staff. It gets to a point now that maybe there are too many ways to contact admin and teaching staff.  Having a contact management system is always a good idea for larger educational institutions.

Example contact methods are:

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Social Media
    • Skype
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
  • Instant messaging apps (Whatsapp, Viber)
  • LMS-integrated chat

Instructions For The First Meeting

The welcome letter should contain clear instructions that will guide your students to the first meeting. Whether you are conducting a live video conference on Skype or getting in an audio call on Discord, do not assume your students already know how to use this software. 

It is a great idea to explain the entire process to them so that you will avoid eventual misunderstandings. You can even include screenshots to guide them throughout the necessary steps or links to tutorials.

Introductory Videos

A pre-recorded video of yourself is a great way to welcome your online students. Apart from the fact that it humanizes your presence in the digital learning environment, it also creates a social link between you and your students. 

If you are not decided whether you should include an introduction video in your online course, I suggest reading the following article:

ARTICLE: Introduction Video: Why Your Online Course Needs One 

There are several important characteristics that will help you create an amazing video:

  • Duration 
  • Content
    • Schedule
    • Rules
    • Availability
  • Instructions

Duration 

The introductory video should be short but engaging. Its purpose is to welcome your students, not to overwhelm them with tremendous amounts of information. You can list the important details into a text document that should accompany the video. 

Content

Having a powerful and relevant content is very important when you create a welcome video for your online course. There are three main aspects that you have to include in your video.

Schedule

  • When do the classes take place? 
  • Is the schedule fixed or flexible? 
  • Does the student have to be present during all the classes?

Rules

  • What are the rules that apply to your online course? 
  • What are the requirements for passing the course? 
  • What should students do and not do during the live classes?

Availability

  • If your students need further clarification or instructions.  When are your tutoring times?
  • How fast do you usually reply? 
  • What are your usual daily working hours? 

Instructions

Do not forget to provide clear instructions for the first online class. You can even take advantage of screenshots to explain the steps your students must perform. Depending on the platform where the live meeting will take place the students will or will not need more detailed guidance.

There are certain aspects that should not be included in the introductory video. Those aspects rather belong to the course syllabus:

  • Grading policy
  • Assignments and due dates
  • Instructor’s contact details
  • Recommended resources

To learn more about what you should include in the introductory video of an online course, I recommend reading the following article:

ARTICLE: Best Practice: Create a Course Introduction Video 

Student Forums

Asking students to write a brief description of their hobbies and interests and why they are taking the course on the student forum is a great way to start students interacting. This method is especially helpful when your students are from different countries and your online course is hosted using an LMS. 

For example, Blackboard and Moodle offer an integrated forum tool. This feature allows students to create and reply to discussions. It is a great way your students get to know each other. Moreover, you increase the social interaction of your online course. 

Group Communication Tools

Instead of forums and emails, most businesses have gone down the path of group communication tools like Slack, Rocket Chat, and many other private social media platforms.  You will see LMS including this communication stream type feature in as well. 

This is a great way to control the conversation but provide students with the ability to create their own groups and for students to do the same. 

Welcome Webinars

Nothing brings all the new students together like a big group web conference where you welcome your students and just like the welcome video above but you are doing this life.  This allows students to talk to each other and ask questions.

It is always a good idea to record all the sessions for those students that can not make it to the scheduled time.  Try to be as flexible as possible with your online students.

Introduction eLearning

Most educational institutions have started making some mandatory eLearning modules for students to cover all of the basics for new students.  This is a great idea to get everyone on the same page.  Whether you mark this subject officially or not is up to you.

Welcome Letters Templates

Below you will find four different welcome letter templates that you can use for your online course. You can use those templates as they are or cherry-pick what you need from them. The most important thing is to provide clear, concise, and relevant information for your students. 

If you want to put your best foot forward, you can personalize every letter for each student. To do this you have to include their name into the recipient field (Dear <Student_Name>,). Not only they will feel appreciated but you will also reveal the fact that you care enough to personalize their first contact.

The placeholders should be used as follows:

  • <Date> – today’s date
  • <Student Name> – student name
  • <Course_Name> – your course title
  • <Instructor_Name> – your complete name
  • <Subject> – course topic
  • <Course_Duration> – number of weeks the course will last
  • <Starting_Date> & <Ending_Date> – when your course begins / ends
  • <Resource> – any online/offline resource 
  • <Phone_Number> – your phone number including the country prefix
  • <Email_Address> – your email address including the service provider (@domain.country)
  • <Platform_Title> – learning management system used for teaching the course

Template 1

<Date>

Congratulations <Student Name> on your acceptance into <Course_Name>! 

My name is <Instructor_Name> and I will be teaching you <Subject> for the next <Course_Duration>. Below you will find the information you need for your upcoming course.

Your class will run for six weeks from <Starting_Date> through <Ending_Date>.There will be an introduction web conference and then you will be doing the course self-paced with tutor support.

Participating in the mandatory live meeting before the course begins will confirm your enrollment in the course. It will be an opportunity to ask questions and request additional information about training content, assignments, and exams.

The primary purpose of your course will be to be able to <Main_Topic> and also <Secondary_Topic>.

We will be covering the following topics:

  • <Topic 1>
  • <Topic 2>
  • <Topic 3>
  • <Topic 4>

 I suggest reviewing the following resources that will help you during your course::

  • <Resource1>
  • <Resource2>
  • <Resource3>

If you have any questions about the course, please do not hesitate to contact me at phone number <Phone_Number>, or at email address <Email_Address. I will respond to you within <Response_Time> hours of your message. 

Please note that all emails from me will be sent to this email address and if you need to change your contact details you can do that online or through student support.

To log in to our virtual classroom:

  • Go to <Website>
  • <Step2>
  • <Step3>
  • <Step4>

Contact me with any concerns or if you don’t understand anything in this email.

Once again, welcome to <Course_Name>, and congratulations!

Sincerely,

<Instructor_Name>

Template 2

<Date>

Dear <Student Name>,

Greetings and welcome to the <Course_Title>! 

My name is <Instructor_Name>, I’ve been <Instructor_Experience> and I’m excited to be leading you in learning the fundamentals of <Subject>.

ABOUT THIS COURSE

This course will be conducted primarily online starting on <Starting_Date>.

This is a <Course_Length> course in which you should expect to spend about <Hours_Per_Week>  hours per week on coursework and projects. We’ll be using <Resource1>, <Resource2>, and <Resource3>.

We will cover the following topics during the semester:

  • What is <Subject>?
  • The basics of <Subject>
  • Details of <Subject>
  • Applying <Subject>

ACCESSING THIS COURSE

For this course, we will use <Platform_Title>. You can log in to the system here <Link>. There is also a link on the page to 24/7 tech support if you are having any problems with the <Platform_Title> system. 

Your credentials are: <Username> / <Password>. If you are having trouble with your username contact me as soon as possible.

GETTING STARTED

Once you’ve entered the class check out the WELCOME ANNOUNCEMENT on the homepage which will give you more information about our course Check-in requirement. You should check in no later than <Date>. You’ll find more detailed information about the course itself in the SYLLABUS link on the main menu.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES/LINKS

<Resource1>

<Resource2> 

<Resource3>

If you’ve never taken an online course before and want to know more about what skills you need to be a successful student online.  Check out the Distance Education website where there is a lot of helpful information to get you started with online learning.

If you have any general questions about this class you can contact me. I will respond to you within <Respons_Time> hours of receipt of your message. If you are having problems getting into your course please contact me at <Email_Address> or by phone at <Phone_Number>.

I look forward to meeting all of you! Welcome again!

<Instructor_Name>

Template 3

<Date>

Dear <Student Name>,

Welcome to <Course_Name>! 

My hope is that by the end of this course you have a new appreciation for the <Subject> matter and will continue your education in the <Subject>.

My name is <Instructor_Name> and I will be your instructor for the next <Course_Duration> in this completely online course. 

This course runs <Starting_Date> to <Ending_Date>. In this letter, you will find basic information about the course as well as resources for ensuring your success in online education. The course will be conducted in <Platform_Title> and everything for your success will be found there. Once the course starts you will be able to log in at this <Website>.

Let me start by telling you about me. 

<Previous_Experience>

This course will teach you everything about <Subject>. The main competencies that you will develop during this online course are:

  • <Competency1>
  • <Competency2>
  • <Competency3>
  • <Competency4>

An online course is much like a face-to-face course it takes a significant time commitment from you. I expect you to spend at least <Expected_Time> hours per week working on the material. 

While there is a significant amount of training material I have worked to make it all enjoyable. It is, for this reason, I say the course will take at least <Expected_Time> hours per week. Each week’s material will be made available on <Starting_Date>.

<Platform_Title> provides a supportive help center that is available 24/7. You can access this help using the question mark icon at the bottom of the global navigation pane. Use this resource if you are having trouble logging in or as other technical issues arise. 

Note: If you find yourself having trouble with course content please contact me and not <Platform_Title>.

For students new to online learning you can find resources for how to prepare yourself for the online learning environment by visiting the <Resource1>.

Last, but not least please contact me if you have a question about the course. The best way to do this is to utilize the Inbox feature of <Platform_Title>. The Inbox functions just like email. You will find a compose button across the top of the page. Depending on how you set your Notification preferences you will receive a copy of my reply in personal email and this Inbox. 

My goal is to respond to messages within <Response_Time> and my office hours are between <Office_Hours>. If your request is urgent always call your Student Advisor for immediate help.

I look forward to working with you!

<Instructor_Name>

<Phone_Number>

<Email_Address>

Template 4

<Date>

Dear <Student Name>,

Welcome to <Course_Name>! 

I am looking forward to the opportunity we will have to learn and grow together in the course. The course starts on <Starting_Date> and lasts through <Ending_Date>. 

As you know this is an online course. <Platform_Title> will be used as an online learning system. You can access the course by visiting <Website> and logging in with your credentials. If you have difficulty with your login you can contact me on <Email_Address>.

Success in an online class requires just as much work and effort as success in a traditional classroom. The amount of time you can expect to commit to the class in any given week will vary but it will probably average around <Expected_Time> hours per week. This is a fully online course so there will be no required campus visits. Virtual office hours will be available as well.

This course will explain both basic and advanced topics related to <Subject>. There are some key competencies you have to develop in order to graduate this course:

  • <Competency1>
  • <Competency2>

Your success is important to me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having difficulty with the course material. General questions about the course should be posted on the <Questions_Forum>. If you have questions that are more personal in nature email <Email_Address> is the best way to contact me for a quick response. 

As you get ready to begin the course it might be a good idea to consult the following resources:

  • <Resource1>
  • <Resource2>

Yours sincerely,

<Instructor_Name>

<Email_Address>

<Phone_Number>

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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