I love +Rob Reynolds's LEM challenge for today (see, +George Station, Rob understands!) ... and while I don't have time to write up a real post about it, here is how I manage the welcome thing: instead of relying on the email itself as the mode of communication, I use the email as a pointer to the class announcements blog which is where the welcome happens: http://ouclassannouncements.blogspot.com/ I can make that blog post a lot more fun and stimulating than an email, plus it shows up automatically INSIDE Canvas as the homepage, instead of disappearing into the abyss of people's email inboxes, which you know are just flooded with all kinds of stuff in the first week. So, students see it each time they come to Canvas and log on.

I leave this announcements the same during "Week 0" (my soft start), but I send around an email link to it a few times during the week: I sent the first email on Friday, I'll send a reminder on Tuesday, and then I'll send another reminder on Friday. Totally short and sweet: the goal is to get them to leave the email as quickly as possible and go to the blog: the email doesn't matter; the blog does.

Plus, even if I do leave this text the same all week long, it will look a little different every time because of the random cats, the new Twitter items, and I also rotate the music in the music widget. So, yes, same text... but different possible experience every time. :-)

And here's Rob's LEM challenge
http://learningdesignchallenge.com/design-challenges/learning-design-challenge-24-welcome-e-mail-for-an-online-course/
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