Some students worry that online courses won’t offer them the opportunity to get to know their instructor or make professional connections. In reality, online classrooms provide multiple ways for students to engage with their instructors and peers. Similar to traditional classrooms, putting in a little effort can help you build relationships with your faculty and classmates. Here are five tips to help get you started.
There is often free time before an online class starts as students are signing in to the discussion or lecture. Use this time to introduce yourself to your teacher and classmates or even throw out a quick greeting. More often than not, you’ll encourage the same behavior in others and get a conversation going that can help everyone get to know one another.
Use your instructor’s office hours to touch base with them about any questions or concerns you might have.
Teachers have busy schedules and balance multiple courses just like you, and this is a dedicated time to get to know them and discuss tests and projects. Your teacher can be a valuable resource for adjusting to and succeeding during your academic career.
Asking your instructor for professional advice can relieve some of your concerns and guide you in the right direction. Once you’ve built a rapport with your instructor through class conversations or occasional small talk, it’ll be easier to dig into your aspirations or share career concerns.
Asking for help shows you trust their guidance, and trust is the foundation of a lasting relationship. Plus, it will make requesting a letter of recommendation significantly easier.
Both formal and informal discussions can lead to stronger relationships with your classmates and faculty. Most online courses include a forum for group discussions. For example, online courses at Purdue Global include a discussion board where you can ask questions of faculty and classmates and participate in group discussions.
Of course, make sure that you conduct yourself in a professional manner and adhere to any student conduct guidelines established by your school and the instructor.
We know this isn’t always an option. But if geography permits it, once you’ve started to get to know your classmates, you can form smaller in-person study groups or attend local events together.
If your school has regional locations and alumni chapters in your area, take advantage of these resources. They are great places to interact with peers and faculty.