Online learning doesn't have to be an impersonal experience. With all the tools at hand for interaction and connection at today's online universities, creating productive, one-to-one relationships with professors isn't just a good idea — it should be your goal for every new class.
After all, regardless of where you are when you're studying, your online professor is there to help you reach your educational goals and lend experience and insight — just like at a "traditional" school. Here's how to get started:
- Make contact. Reach out and introduce yourself. Provide a little summary on your background, learning goals and how they relate to the class. Because every brain is unique, learning styles vary from person to person. By helping your instructor get to know you, you can help yourself.
- Pay attention to what your professor has to say. Even though you're not in a traditional classroom setting, the information being conveyed is timely, relevant and important. It's incumbent on you to go the extra mile to show you're engaged. Ask questions during chats, and respond to questions that are asked. Make it clear whether the message is getting through or if something that's said remains unclear.
- Use the tools at hand. Explore what's available within your online learning platform. Being active on discussion boards can help you connect with your professors as well as your classmates. Post more than the minimum requirements to stay engaged and in the know. Also, take advantage of the tutoring and learning labs available for specific courses and topics as needed.
- Make your professor's life easier. Staying on task, complete work on time and remain engaged. Your commitment shows.
- Use proper spelling and grammar. Don't assume that text-speak is appropriate or that the educational platform is any less formal. It isn't. The same applies to email communications. You are evaluated on your ability to communicate—at all times and in all ways.
- Don't give up. Relationship building takes time and dedication. Take advantage of your professors' office hours to connect, or email them with questions. It also may require patience on your part. If you reach out for additional insight or assistance and don't hear back immediately, resist the urge to send email after email. When you do hear back, make sure you understand what is being said; then archive the email for later reference.