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4 Ways to Communicate With Professors in Online Courses

Some online faculty hold virtual office hours for students through videoconferencing.


Beyond videoconferencing, online students can connect with professors in person and via social media.


With less in-person contact in an online course, a prospective student should expect ample written communication with classmates, school staff and professors.


Interacting with faculty outside of the virtual classroom is an essential part of successfully completing an online degree program. Here are four ways to connect with instructors in online courses.


1. Emails or the school’s online education portal: One of the most common ways to connect with instructors will be either through emails or a college’s or university’s learning management system – the portal students use to complete and submit coursework. These will also be the most formal means of communication with online faculty and probably the most reliable and verifiable if needed in the future.



Students should also remember that written communication leaves out body language and voice tones, so work to ensure the message is clear and straightforward.


2. Videoconferencing: Just as on-campus students can meet with professors face to face, online learners have similar options to contact instructors virtually. For example, instructors may offer virtual office hours through videoconferencing during specific hours.



Such an opportunity can help online students feel less isolated from their instructors and campus in general. Videoconferencing may not be required, but it is a great way receive answers to questions regarding assignments in real time, learn more about the subject and develop a relationship.


3. Social media: As social media becomes more prevalent, online learners can adopt it to interact with faculty. While some instructors may not have public social media accounts, others will encourage that form of communication.



To avoid appearing too informal on social media, students should keep their tone professional. LinkedIn and Twitter may be a safer bet, while Facebook and Instagram may be considered too private for communicating with professors.


4. In-person events when possible: Even in an online program, students may have opportunities to meet their professors at on-campus or local events. These may be the most informal conversations they have with them during the program and may become those they will remember most after graduating.


Students should take the time to visit on-campus open lectures and residencies along with local networking events, if offered, and they will gain a better knowledge of the culture of the school and get to know their professors better.


The takeaway: Online students have various opportunities to interact with instructors via email, the school’s portal, videoconferencing or even in-person meetings. Each channel is an opportunity to address concerns and answer their questions. They should remember to acknowledge their professor’s preferred method of communication and be proactive in the process.


Source: U.S.News – Education