Online classes offer numerous advantages, including among them the ability to work from home and complete your assignments according to your own schedule. The benefits come with a few drawbacks, however, as you miss out on classtime interaction with teachers and fellow students. The key to overcoming these barriers and getting the most out of your online course experience is one simple word: Communication. Follow these simple tips to effectively improve your online classroom communication:
- You will not be able to ask your instructor questions in the classroom but be sure to take advantage of any class discussion forums to ask your questions and to read those of others-often these will provide you with some answers or inspiration.
- Get to know your fellow classmates as well. You don’t need to live near each other to form study groups–try forums, email, or services such as Skype or Google Hangout.
- Keep your instructor informed. Having difficulties completing or submitting an assignment? Dead links or trouble viewing files on the Moodle class page? Let your instructor know immediately by his or her preferred contact method, and, if the deadline is looming, consider emailing an attachment of the assignment in question. This is no guarantee of acceptance but it does let your instructor know that you are working hard and are engaged with the material.
- Email any questions you have to your instructor well in advance of assignment due dates to allow time for a proper response. If necessary, you may wish to try and set up a phone chat or campus visit to allow for more in depth discussions.
- It goes without saying, but remember to respect your instructors and fellow students. Summer is busy for everyone so response times to questions and calls may be a bit slower than during the semester proper.
*Skeleton Key: a key that will open several types of locks, or, when used in literature and myth, a key that can open any lock, magical or otherwise.