See more from this Session: General Resident Education: I
Effective communication among students and faculty within an academic program is critical for ensuring student success. In addition to student-faculty relationships, academic programs generally have clubs/student organizations associated with them adding to the complexity and importance of effective communication. Communication among student organization officers, students, and advisors is critical to ensure proper planning, preparation, participation, and successful completion of activities. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) Crops and Soils Program enhanced its communication abilities by developing and maintaining a “portal” within a Desire2Learn© (D2L) course management software site. The D2L site was modified from a traditional course framework to include tools and applications appropriate for a portal setup. Features activated within the software include a” News” section, where faculty members and club officers update students regarding current activities, encourage involvement, and post current agronomically-related news releases. A “Resources” section was created to provide links to curricular information, club bylaws and meeting minutes, links to professional organization (SSSA , ASA, SASES, etc.), upcoming conferences and crop and soil judging competitions, graduate schools, scholarships, as well internships and job postings. The “Discussion” area includes a “Scrapbook Forum” where historical records and photographs are kept and a “Pose a Question” forum where students can ask questions and respond to others' questions about club activities, courses, jobs and other topics. The portal site also allows for simple maintenance of a list of students and functionality for sending group email messages. In this presentation, we will discuss the advantages of using course management software for this application, tips and strategies for incorporation, as well as student and faculty feedback from our initial year of the D2L portal operation.