There are many advantages to taking classes online as compared to taking them at traditional brick-and-mortar universities. For us veteran online learners, we have experienced all the benefits of online learning. For example, advantages of online learning are that online classes allow students to be flexible with their schedules, can engage with peers and professors as often as they would like during any hours of the week, and attend classes from the comfort of their own homes or environment–as long as they have reliable Internet connections and computer devices. Most importantly, online students can make the most out of their online experience when they take active approaches to engage and connect with their peers.
One active approach to engage and connect with your peers is by introducing yourself in the class forums. Even while the introduction post is typically mandatory in the online class, it is important to be specific about yourself when writing it. The introduction post is also where students can be creative and showcase themselves. This is where students inform their peers and professors about their background, career aspirations and educational objectives. Taking the time to thoroughly read and post a reply to all of your fellow classmates’ and professors’ introduction post is a good way to engage/connect with them. It is also a good idea to follow up on any subsequent replies in a timely manner. In addition, when responding to discussion posts, be sure to critique other students’ posts and responses in a professional manner; and be sure to include a positive feedback in the reply-post if credit is due. Moreover, it is crucial to add value into the discussion post by incorporating and citing external sources.
Another active approach to engage/connect with your peers is to assist them with their class related issues. For example, a fellow classmate might be on military duty at an unfriendly territory where accessibility to a particular textbook edition is out of reach; so she sends out an internal email message to the class explaining her situation and that she needs scanned copies of a few pages of the problems and diagrams. If that is the case, this would be a good opportunity to connect with her by tending to the request. For that matter, throughout the semester you will feel a sense of camaraderie with her. This connection can even last well into the future when you both happen to meet again in another class; however, this time around, you might be in that same predicament and need help from other peers.
Online students can make the most out of their online educational experiences when they take an active approach to engage and connect with their peers. One of the easiest ways to do this is by introducing themselves in class forums and by assisting fellow classmates.
By Houn Kang
Online Learning Tips, Special Student Contributor