When you are taking classes online, it can seem as if you are far distant from the other students and from the professor. This sense of un-reality can make it hard for you to feel connected to the teacher and your classmates. Finding ways to bridge the communication gap is essential if you don’t want your education to become a chore. How does one ask and get answers to their question when taking distance learning courses?
Teachers of online education classes will often begin each session with a series of exercises designed to bring the class together. Not literally, but figuratively. You may be asked to read and discuss other students’ work online, comment on their forum entries, or other tasks to bring you together as you all get your education online.
Your professor will also be working to make herself available to the students, so you should not feel bad about emailing them or otherwise getting in contact, even with tiny or seemingly insignificant questions. If it is something that you want to ask, then it is important. Post relevant questions on your class page so that others can see the answers, or email your teacher directly so that you can get the answers you want without feeling embarrassed.
Have a means to communicate effectively is essential to succeeding in an online college degree environment, so if you are not communicating, then you are not getting everything that you can out of each class. Since you cannot raise your hand and wait to be called on, just post your questions as you think of them. There are no stupid questions, remember.
Once you have overcome your fear of communication, it is important to know how to do it right. Do not use sarcasm or other language methods that need inflection to be properly understood. Read all of your emails and posts before you send them to your online teacher or your fellow students so that you can be sure you are communicating what you want to communicate.
Respect is also important in communication, and in the case of online schools, you can show this respect by taking the time to write at a college level. Make sure that your grammar and spelling are acceptable by composing first in a Word document and then pasting your words into the message box online. You want to show respect for your classmates, but you also want to gain their respect.
It is hard for people to take you seriously if you write at an amateur level, and what you really want in your online education is to gain a base for a professional career later. That means gaining the respect of your fellow students and of your teacher, which might prove useful to you later (even relatively soon) if they prove to be good contacts. You can also consider the necessity to write as your only form of communication as an opportunity to practice and perfect your skills.
You can ask your teacher to correct you when you make mistakes in your writing, including private correspondence to him or her. You can also ask fellow students the same thing if any of them seem to have a firm grasp of the language. As your practice increases, your communication skills will grow.
You can also communicate better with your fellow students by arranging to meet with some of them for study groups if any of them live nearby (something that might not be possible in a distance learning course). When you get together, do your best to keep conversation to the topic at hand and get your work done.
Once you have met face to face, it is much easier to exchange emails and messages because you really know the person to whom you are writing. This can be very useful if the reason for your lack of communication is that you feel as if you are talking to strangers when you address other members of your class.
You can get to know people who live farther away by (with your teacher’s permission) posting a little bit about yourself, including links to blogs or videos of yourself and encouraging others to share. Most teachers will be pleased that you are making the effort to make real contact with them and your fellow students.
Just be careful that everything you share is, if not professional, at least not damaging to your reputation or to how you are perceived. You may be proud of a hilarious photo of yourself, but imagine that one of the people seeing it is your future boss before you decide to share it.