When people think about getting a degree online, they often wonder how much interaction they’ll have with their professors and other students. It’s a legitimate question, especially for adults going back to school after several years away. Online learning is very different from a traditional classroom and, for some people, it can take a little getting used to.
The best schools know online students need practical interaction plus a feeling of belonging, and they offer a variety of ways for people to stay in touch. Tiffin University makes it easy with technology built into online classes. Even though they’re not face to face, TU students form meaningful connections and relationships as they learn and strive for common goals.
Here are some ways TU’s online students can interact:
- Discussion forums: Students and instructors trade non-instant messages on a particular topic. Everyone posts messages and replies on their own schedules.
- Email: Students can use email to ask their instructors specific questions about class or make special requests. Email between classmates is a great way to coordinate group projects and share resource materials.
Online Communication Tips
Communicating digitally has become second nature to most of us, but before taking a class online get familiar with “netiquette” guidelines like these:
- Respect people’s privacy: Think twice before you send out an email or text to a group of people who may not want everyone to know their addresses or phone numbers. Use the blind copy feature in email and disable group messaging in your phone to keep from sharing too much. And get permission before forwarding someone else’s information or messages.
- Follow the headline rule: If you wouldn’t want your words to show up as a headline in The New York Times, don’t put them in writing, period.
- Be open-minded. It’s okay to disagree with a classmate or instructor, as long as you do it in a professional, nonjudgmental way.
- Be thorough, but brief. When participating in forums or chats, make meaningful comments that add to the conversation without repeating what others have already said. Edit yourself before posting.
- Don’t automatically “reply all.” Be sure your response is relevant and beneficial to the whole group before adding another item to their inbox.
- Never hit send when you’re angry or frustrated. It’s easy to write something you wouldn’t say to someone’s face—and if you do, you’ll probably regret it. Give yourself time to cool off before restarting the conversation.
Pursuing a degree online may not have the same human interaction as an in-person classroom, but thanks to technology and a few simple rules, the personal and professional rewards can be just as great.