ION | Illinois Online Network

Making the Virtual Classroom a Reality

Encouraging Communication in Online Courses

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This course provides insight into and methods for structuring an online course to maximize the quality of interactions among students, and between the instructor and students.


Enhancing Communication is for anyone who wants to know more about how to facilitate an online discussion or how to promote student interactions in asynchronous or synchronous discussions.


  • Achieving synergy in the virtual classroom
  • Suggestions and techniques for facilitating asynchronous discussions
  • Collaborative and cooperative learning
  • Promoting communication and collaboration
  • Strategies for providing feedback


Module 1 - Building Community and Synergy

Module 2 Peer Feedback and Assessment

Module 3 - Setting Up Conferencing in an Online Course

Module 4 - Constructivist Theory

Module 5 - Collaborative Learning

Module 6 - Virtual Teams

Module 7 - Synchronous Conferencing


The goal of this course is to introduce principles of Web-based communication to enable teachers and instructors to be able to improve communication among students and between students and instructors.


After completing this course, learners will be able to:

  1. Examine the duties of facilitators in each of the roles they assume
  2. Reorganize or create an effective conferencing structure for a particular discipline
  3. Create student activities that incorporate constructivist and collaborative learning principles
  4. Take part in a synchronous session and critique its usefulness


This course is eight weeks long, including an online orientation.


This course requires Online Learning: An Overview or its equivalent as a prerequisite.


  • Complete the online course orientation during week 1.
  • Read the instructor's lesson introductions, assigned articles from the Web and visit web sites that illustrate the tool under discussion.
  • Answer weekly discussion questions related to some aspect of communications.
  • Engage in positive and meaningful dialog with classmates concerning the course subject matter.
  • Write a summary of the key items covered each week and how they apply to your field of teaching.
  • Complete group projects designed to demonstrate effective methods for encouraging communication


This course has a modular structure and a facilitator leader. Each unit is individually assessed, but successive units build on previous information. The course pedagogy is based on collaborative learning and group participation. Course content is delivered through the use of Web-based reading, and discussions between students and the instructor and among students. Discussion questions will form a basis for discussion.


This is an intensive course requiring approximately 8-10 hours a week. The time commitment will vary depending an individual's input, needs, and personal study habits. Students are required to log on to the course a minimum of 3 times a week.

Credit Options

Continuing Education Credit (CEU Credit)
8 Continuing education units (CEU credit) are available for this course.

Graduate or Undergraduate Academic Credit
This course can also be taken for academic graduate credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield. To earn academic credit, you must first enroll as a non-degree or as a degree student through UIS. Visit the How to Enroll page for more information.


Taking a course for CEUs:
Registration for this course is open to the general public, but there is a registration fee for participants who are not employees of the University of Illinois. The fee is determined by the number of contact hours and online discussion requirements for the course. To view the fee schedule for a specific section of this course, visit the Schedule and click on the link for that section (e.g. SA1051).

Taking a course for Graduate Credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS):
Most MVCR courses [not the Advanced Online Seminars] may be taken for graduate credit through UIS. You do not pay twice if you choose this route. You pay only the tuition and fees associated with UIS enrollment. If you choose to enroll through UIS, you need to follow the instructions. You do not register through this site.

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Taking Courses for Academic Credit

Most 8-week MVCR courses can also be taken for academic credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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Suggested Tracks

Instruction Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Encouraging Comm.
  • Elective
  • Practicum

Technology Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Technology Tools
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Elective (Multimedia or Sims, Labs, Games, and VR)
  • Practicum

Support Professional

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Universal Design
  • Elective (Supporting Students, Copyright, Global eLearning, Blended/Hybrid, Librarians Collaborating, Multimedia Principles)
  • Practicum

COLA - track

  • Administration Seminar
  • Quality Assurance
  • Issues and Strategies in Faculty Training
  • Supporting Students Online

Choose one of the following three for your elective:

  • Administration of Online Programs
  • Copyright
  • Blended - Hybrid Learning Design and Instruction
  • Practicum for Administrators
What They're Saying
"It's good to communicate with faculty in different disciplines and gain their insights."     

MVCR Participant

Award winning courses

The MVCR program won the Award for Excellence in ALN Faculty Develop-ment (in conjunction with other ION programs) from the Sloan-consortium in 2002. One of our instructors won the WebCT Exemplary Online Course Award for an MVCR course as well.

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