Tips for Interacting with Others in Online Courses

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January 14th, 2011

One of the biggest adjustments you will have to make as you transition into or begin taking courses from an online degree program is that interactions with your fellow students and professor will be largely conducted through the internet and other electronic means. Gone will be the days of speaking in class to another student or trying to manage your anxiety at having to answer a tough question from your professor. When you take online courses, that face-to-face component will not be there to affect the nature of your discussions

This change in how you participate in classes can be both good and bad. It could be good for those of you who are shy in person or who need more time to formulate a good response to a class discussion. Likewise, the difference in learning mediums could force those who are comfortable speaking and discussing things in public, those who benefit from active and quick discussions in person to change how they learn.

Regardless of how you learn best in a traditional classroom, you'll want to try to follow some of these tips for interacting with you online classmates and professors.

First, you should always try to communicate as clearly as possible in all your electronic correspondence. This means avoiding typographical errors and fragmented, incomplete sentences as much as possible, as these mistakes can sometimes get in the way of your message's meaning. If you're a bad typist, then you should try to improve your typing skills, as these will help you communicate your ideas online in emails and in virtual chat rooms for your class.

 

Second, always be clear regarding whom you are addressing in any online interaction, and also identify yourself if the context demands it. For example, if you are emailing your professor about an assignment, sign it with your full name, the course in which you are enrolled, and your student number. If you are in a chat or forum, and you want to respond directly to another person's comment or question, address that person in your response. That way, later, in the logs of the conversation, a reader reviewing the transcript for an exam can easily follow the different conversations that occurred during the session.

Finally, when you communicate with others online, understand that it's a relatively new medium for many students, so you should always be patient in your interactions with others as they try to work through the process.

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