Staying connected in an online environment doesn’t have to be difficult. With email access, chat rooms, discussion boards and more, students earning an undergraduate or graduate degree 100% online can connect with professors in real-time and stay connected throughout their educational journey.
Making personal connections outside of a traditional classroom setting is possible. Here are three ways online students can connect with professors.
Tip #1: Be Proactive
Reach out to your instructor, introduce yourself and start building a relationship. Although you may not have the opportunity to meet face-to-face, you can begin communicating with online faculty before challenges may arise. You may feel more comfortable asking a question or asking for help after you’ve communicated with and gotten to know your professor.
“Don’t hide in the shadows. I think in every class there’s always like five or six students who stand out just because they’ve written to you a couple times. You start to get to know them because they’re corresponding with you, and other students are really good students but you don’t hear too much on a personal basis from them. So, email your professor – make up the question or whatever – just to try to establish that relationship,” – Tim Muth, Instructor, Nathan M. Bisk College of Business
Tip #2: Participate
Participating in online forums, even when it’s just sharing your opinions or thoughts, can show your instructor you are invested in the course and your education. It can be intimidating to join an in-depth discussion, but what you have to say helps your instructor and your peers get to know you, regardless if they agree with you or not.
“There are a number of ways that students can connect with their instructors in an online environment. There’s discussion boards, there’s email and chat rooms as well as office hours. So, we strongly encourage students to reach out to their instructors. And instructors also definitely reach out to students on an on-going basis,” – Lisa Steelman, Associate Professor, College of Psychology and Liberal Arts
Tip #3: Ask for Help
Don’t hesitate to ask for help, as there are resources available to help keep you on track. By reaching out to your instructor, he or she can better understand your situation and personally help come up with a plan for course completion or connect you with school resources and programs, like tutoring services. If you’re struggling with time management, seek advice and best practices from your instructor. If you’re anticipating a life situation that may keep you from your studies, work with faculty to focus on how your goal can still be achieved.
“We have people who care about our students. We understand that our students are not just somebody behind a computer screen but they truly are students. Our resources are set up for our campus and our online students the same.” Troy Glassman, Assistant Professor of Management
Implementing these tips will help you feel more connected and positive about reaching out to instructors with questions, problems and general feedback about the course. Once you have a connection, you can maintain it after class ends. Staying in touch can help build your network and pay off in the future.