Lesson 3: Communicating at KVCC


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this lesson's material, students will be able to:

  • Identify specific offices and persons at KVCC and their function
  • Identify when and how to communicate with Faculty, Department Chairs, and the Academic Dean
  • Identify the standard protocols for communication at KVCC (email, text blasting, website, etc.)


Getting to know a new place, like KVCC, involves getting to know the people that make up the organization. KVCC is not a set of buildings located at 92 Western Ave. in Fairfield, ME....it is a team of dedicated professionals of all types who work together to fulfill a common mission of giving you the best educational opportunity we can. This takes a lot of people!

Some of them work behind the scenes and you may never meet them...the finance and purchasing people, custodians (although you should say Hi to these folks!), and some administration...others you will be interacting with every day such as professors, librarians, and the billing office (yes, these are people too!)

There is an assessment below where we will be sending you on a "Scavenger Hunt" to find people...you can do this on the web or in person at the college...either way, there are some key people who you will be interacting with often here at KVCC

Communicating at KVCC

This lesson, however, is really about communicating...and who to communicate with when you have a specific kind of problem or question. Our organizational policies provide for lines of authority and communication to help facilitate your solution...it might seem like a bit of a "run around" sometimes but in order to get the best answer for your question, we often have to find out who might have that answer!

As you review the folks in the Scavenger Hunt, think about what types of problems/questions/concerns (and maybe "Thanks"!) you might need to address with each person.

Key individuals that you need to communicate with include your professor (Faculty), the Chair of that faculty's department, and ultimately the Academic Dean.

Talking to Faculty

If you are having any problem with your classes...such as not understanding the material, struggling with getting an assignment done, you will be missing class, or even if you are having problems with the teaching itself...your FIRST contact needs to be with the TEACHER!

Although it might seem that some teachers are more "approachable" than others you need to understand something. Teachers are under pressure to be FAIR to all their students...and some of them are teaching material that is difficult for some students to understand. This sometimes leads us to set strict guidelines and expectations for the work...and these often come across as absolute and immovable, and we might even make ourselves look mean and "unapproachable".

Don't believe it!

Although we sometimes need to stick to our policies, we are all interested in your success and in hearing about your challenges. We want to help you make the changes you need to make to be successful. Remember, each of your teachers, at one time, was where you are right now...and we got "good" at this "going to school" thing! We have great ideas, great advice, and great guidance.

Treat us with respect!

We have a tough job too...and remember, we are charged with being FAIR to all students...so we might not be able to do what you want us to do all the time...but you need to talk to us. We are the ones who can make the MOST difference in the classroom.

Below is a short essay from Teresa Rael, a long-standing adjunct instructor here at KVCC...her advice is specific to communicating with part-time faculty.

Communicating with your Adjunct Instructor

As a Liberal Studies student, you will find that more of your instructors will be adjunct – or part-time – than full-time. That may present some challenges regarding communication with those folks. While adjuncts do have office space, few of them use it on a regular basis. Of those few who do use it, most don’t have regular office hours. As a matter of fact, most of these teachers come to campus to teach their class(es), then leave without going into the office at all. Add to that, most of them do not have direct, on-campus phone access – they only have voicemail which they may or may not check regularly. So, where does that leave you? Here are a few suggestions:

The number one, most important thing is to ask the individual teachers. Most of them will include contact information on the first page of the course syllabus. It’s usual practice to go over the syllabus the first day of class, and that is a prime time to ask that instructor specifically how s/he wants to be contacted. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification! If s/he will be using email as the primary contact, ask two important questions:

1) will it be regular campus email or Blackboard email, and

2) how quickly can you expect a response from the teacher? This second question is important because most of the adjunct instructors have full-time jobs outside of KVCC that may take priority in their schedules. That means that the chances of receiving an immediate response are slim.

Are you ready for a couple more hints? So . . . if you’re sending an email for the purpose of scheduling a meeting with an adjunct instructor, make sure to include the following:

1) the purpose – why do you want to meet?

2) When do you want to meet? Before or after a class (often the best), or another time? If another time, include at least two or three times that will work for you. That gives the instructor some leeway.

A couple other things to consider are – can your business be dealt with through a simple email, or would scheduling a phone call work better? If that’s the case, include the same scheduling information in your request that you would for a meeting (purpose, times/days, etc.).

For those of you who are taking online classes, the communication will more than likely be via email, either campus or Blackboard. Nevertheless, knowing the instructor’s preferences will save everyone a lot of wear and tear. Above all, be patient! These communication challenges can be just as frustrating for your instructors as they are for you.

Before I wrap this up, a word of caution. As with most organizations, KVCC has a “chain of command” regarding communication. If the purpose of your communication is to register a concern or complaint, begin with the instructor! S/he is the person who needs to address your issue(s) and will make changes and/or concessions regarding the class. Only if you have made every effort to contact her/him or if talking with her/him has not adequately addressed the situation, do you go to the next person who is your instructor’s department chairperson.

Your last (and I do mean last) person of resort is the Academic Dean. Starting the process with the Academic Dean will not win you any points and will more than likely only delay the process because s/he will send you right back to your instructor.

Talking to Department Chairs

Department Chairs are in charge of all the teachers and courses and policies within a specific Department. Sometimes a program and a Department are the same thing (such as in Nursing)...at other times, Department Chairs are in charge of a number of Programs.

Either way, if you have not been able to resolve your issue with the teacher, your next step is to contact the Department Chair for your teacher's Department.

When you are doing this, be respectful of their expertise and their time. These folks are seasoned, respected, and very busy people! Call, make an appointment, and be prepared with your thoughts and any materials to state your case or discuss your issue. The Department Chairs really know what is going on at KVCC and they have the power to intervene or explain a situation from a different perspective.

Talking to the Academic Dean

At the top of the heap in the Academic parts of KVCC is the Academic Dean. This person basically run the whole academic show. The job is largely administrative and they are there to create and enforce policy at KVCC. This person is also the one who can agree to "set aside" a policy because of a special situation.

Faculty and Chairs can "set aside" policy sometimes too, but some policies are very rigid. After you have gone to the Faculty and to the Chair, if you still need more help, the next stop is the Deans

Communication Protocols at KVCC

One of the key aspects of being successful at KVCC is being "in the know"...by this I mean you want to know what is going on and where to find information when you need it. We are a pretty large organization with a LOT going on so the college has created some ways and tools for you to use in order to remain "in the know"!

  • KVCC Email
    • While I know you probably have enough email accounts to check every day you need to use and check your unique KVCC email account regularly.
    • Announcements about access to courses, individual correspondence with Faculty outside the classroom, KVCC announcements and opportunities are all communicated through the KVCC email
    • You can access your KVCC email by clicking on the E-mail link on the KVCC website
    • You can access your KVCC email online by using this direct link (http://mail.kvcc.me.edu/exchange)
    • You can access your KVCC email by configuring your own email client on your home computer to access the account (see the IT department for help with this)
  • KVCC Website
    • The KVCC website is a source of a LOT of information
    • You can look up your program, your program requirements, find phone numbers for staff, get the fax number for KVCC...lots of things
    • On the main page (http://www.kvcc.me.edu) there is critical information. On this page you will find:
      • Announcements and events
      • Class cancellations (Faculty who cancel class will post an announcement and you can access those announcements on the main page...if you travel far to class...check here to make sure your class is still running!)
      • KVCC closing
      • KVCC Academic Calendar
      • Access to the KVCC Student Portal
  • KVCC Student Portal
    • Accessed through the main page KVCC website or directly using this link (https://my.kvcc.me.edu/ics) the Portal is your gateway to many things at KVCC
    • You can, among other things:
      • Register for classes
      • Check your grades
      • Complete your class evaluations
      • Print your transcripts (unofficial)
      • Check your progress in your degree
      • Review classes you still have to take
      • Review the schedule of classes for coming semesters
    • As you can see, there are lots of things to do in the Portal
  • Blackboard (or sometimes still referred to as WebCT)
    • Blackboard is our KVCC Course Management System (CMS or Learning Management System, LMS)
    • Most of your classes at KVCC, even if they are not "online" are going to have a "website" in Blackboard.
    • Some faculty use Blackboard to make handouts available for their classes, others use Blackboard extensively to teach their classes (testing, discussions, emails, assignments, etc can all be done online in Blackboard)
    • Many faculty use Blackboard as a PRIMARY communication tool for them and their students. It helps them organize their work and it allows them to more quickly answer your questions.
    • Be sure to ask ALL your teachers how they will be using Blackboard in their class

You have to familiarize yourself with each of these technologies as we use them a LOT!

Private/Public and Personal/Professional

In a moment we are going to review the etiquette of communicating through these modes, but first we need to decide when it is important to use this etiquette.

While polite writing in emails and all other forms of communication is desirable, it is required in the communication that you engage in at KVCC

Private and Personal communication does not necessarily need to follow these rules...that is between you and your friends/family.

KVCC Email is (sort of) Private, but it is Professional

  • KVCC email is only read by the person who you are sending that email to
  • However, if there are problems with inappropriate use or the need arises to track a persons' email, we can do that...so the KVCC email should be used for official communication only and be aware that nothing is ever really deleted!
  • Because it is Professional you need to comply with the etiquette rules below

KVCC Blackboard Email is (sort of) Private, but it is Professional

  • Much of the same applies to this email that is true for regular KVCC email

KVCC Blackboard Discussions are Public and Professional

  • When you post a comment in a discussion board in a Blackboard class the WHOLE CLASS can see your comments
  • If you have been placed in a GROUP in the discussions then only your group can see your message
  • Be careful what you post in the discussions....you might be giving and example of something from your life and even though you don't use anyone's name, there may be people in the class who know the person you are talking about!

Electronic Communication Etiquette

Etiquette refers to the "code of behavior" that is expected of you. In this case, it is the code of behavior when you are communicating here at KVCC.



Taking an online course and corresponding via the World Wide Web presents communicators with the task of overcoming the lack of nonverbals (body, posture, tone-of-voice, facial expressions) in communication. When taking a course online, it is important to remember several points of etiquette that will smooth communication between the students and their instructors.

1. Avoid language that may come across as strong or offensive.
Language can be easily misinterpreted in written communication. If a point must be stressed, review the statement to make sure that an outsider reading it would not be offended, then post the statement. Humor and sarcasm may easily be misinterpreted as well, so try to be as matter-of-fact and professional as possible.

2. Keep writing to a point and stay on topic.
Online courses require a lot of reading. When writing, keep sentences poignant and brief so that readers do not get lost in wordy paragraphs and miss the point of the statement. Also, do not introduce new topics; it may just confuse the readers.

3. Read first, write later.
It is important to read all posts or comments of students and instructors within the course discussion before personally commenting to prevent repeating commentary or asking questions that have already been answered.

4. Review, review, then send.
There’s no taking back a comment that has already been sent, so it is important to double-check all writing to make sure that it clearly conveys the exact intended message.

5. An online classroom is still a classroom.
Though the courses may be online, appropriate classroom behavior is still mandatory. Respect for fellow classmates and the instructors is as important as ever.

6. The language of the Internet.
Though still a fairly young type of communication, certain aspects of this form of communication are becoming conventional. For example, do not write using all capital letters, because it will appear as shouting. Also, the use of emoticons can be helpful when used to convey nonverbal feelings (example: :-) or :-( ), but avoid overusing them.

7. Consider the privacy of others'.
Ask permission prior to giving out a classmate's email address or other information.

8. If possible, keep attachments small.
If it is necessary to send pictures, change the size to an acceptable 100k.

9. No inappropriate material.
Do not forward virus warnings, chain letters, jokes, etc. to classmates or instructors. The sharing of pornographic material is forbidden.


Lesson 3 Discussion

In order to practice the skill of engaging in polite conversation we are going to discuss some subjects that are presumably not for "polite company"! I'm of the opinion that THESE are the very topics we need to really talk about! From the list below select a controversial issue on which you have a strong opinion and post that opinion in the discussion board (make it real...don't fake like your a fanatic, it will be obvious and it sort of ruins the exercise!)

We will all then engage in an active debate about these issues. Look at your fellow students' first posts and then reply to one that really goes against what YOU believe. You can try to convince the person to think otherwise, but you have to do it in a respectful manner! The key here is to practice taking risks and using good communication skills to debate issues that may NEVER get resolved.

Here are the topics:

  • Socialized Healthcare in America
  • Religion
  • Abortion
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Legalization of Marijuana