While attending an online class has its many advantages, one of the huge pitfalls that many students complain about is the fact that they can sometimes feel isolated from the rest of the class. It makes sense—it can be hard to make your presence known if you are not seen in the flesh. But there are some ways that you can avoid the feeling of isolation. Continue reading to find out how you can regain classmate interaction.
The first thing you want to do is announce to your classmates that you exist. This can be done in a number of different ways but by far the easiest is to send out a mass e-mail to all of your classmates through your course management site to introduce yourself. It’s a good idea to put some minor information about yourself in the e-mail as well, such as info about your status (are you married, do you have a family? A full time job etc.) so that others who are in your same situation will feel more comfortable reaching out to you. You can also consider attaching a photo of yourself in the e-mail. If you are a little skeptical of sharing personal information about yourself note that most course management sites have a protective firewall so that only your classmates and professors can access the site. But then again, you don’t want to share info that is too personal either—no displaying your exact address, etc. It might also be a good idea to suggest that you are looking for a study buddy and if anyone is interested to contact you. Having a study partner is an excellent way to feel more involved in the class and help you come test time.
Another way to feel active in class is to participate as much as you can in discussion forums/chat rooms and instant messaging. This is a great way to not only clarify any confusion about course materials, assignments or exams, but it is also a good way to get to know your fellow classmates. You can simply spark a conversation with whoever is online, or you can post a topic of your own and invite others to chime in. Some may participate, others may not but your professor will undoubtedly see the initiative you are taking to get involved and may possibly take that into consideration when formulating your final grade—if anything, you’ll at least get a high mark on your participation grade.
Lastly you want to find a way to connect with your online professor as well. Use all forms of communication to do this: e-mail, phone calls, instant messaging and video chatting if you must. It’s important that you not only talk about class but your career goals as well. Your professor might be able to mentor you and give you some vital advice. In addition, he or she might be able to write you some good letters of recommendation come job search time.