If you have never taken an online class before, you may be wondering how you will be able to reach out to your instructor when you are not able to stop them after class to ask a question, or drop into their office during office hours. What does an online class look like without your classmates in the room?
At first glance, it may seem like communicating with your instructors and classmates while working at a distance would be a challenge. In an online setting, just like in a classroom, you will be communicating with your instructor and working with your classmates, but it will look a little different! Here is some helpful information about communicating with your professors and classmates in an online environment:
Ask for help from your instructor
Your instructor(s) will provide you with a variety of ways to communicate, including email or sending a message within the learning management system (ex. Blackboard or Moodle). Your instructor may even host virtual office hours. Your instructors will let you know how they can be reached. They are there to help, so do not hesitate to ask for it! Just remember: don’t expect the instructor to be available 24/7. Sending an 11:57 p.m. email about an exam that closes at midnight is not a successful strategy! When you communicate with your instructor in an online class, make sure you use concise, professional language. Be direct and honest in your requests.
Read all course materials and communications
Your instructors may send out emails or post announcements with important information about assignments, virtual office hours, or your classes. Be sure to read all information they send out carefully so you are up to date!
Connect with your classmates
In order to encourage students to respond to the material and share ideas with their classmates, many online classes include discussion boards. Students typically post in response to a prompt based on the course material and also reply to classmates within the discussion board. Information on writing a good discussion board post and replies to your classmates is found through the Excelsior OWL. You may be able to send a message to your classmates through the LMS as well.
Transitioning to a distance learning environment may seem daunting, but there are many avenues to support you. Be sure to reach out and ask for help. You’ve got this!
Online Course Discussion Boards: What to Expect