Earning a post-secondary degree or certificate is a trying time. Coursework, tests, studying, and stress from outside commitments can create a stressful atmosphere. However, students who chose to return to school via distance education or online learning face several unique challenges that traditional students do not. Students earning their degree online many be unsure the proper way to interact with a professor or other students online or how to develop a relationship with classmates and professors without ever meeting face to face. Additionally, online students often feel very isolated in their learning due to a lack of face-to-face social interaction.
Feeling isolated when earning your online degree is extremely common. People miss the nonverbal and verbal cues that are so often taken for granted. These cues allow people to build relationships with those around them and as a result feel a stronger tie to their task. Online students missing these interactions can feel distanced from their tasks or their online interactions. Distance learning students can feel uncomfortable interacting online because they’re not sure how to interact with someone without simultaneously receiving verbal and nonverbal cues. Although this is common, knowing that other people feel this way too doesn’t help ease the discomfort. Fortunately there are several skill sets that students can employ to benefit both their online experience and online interactions.
To develop better online relationships and connections with your classmates and professors, it’s best to first understand how to appropriately interact with someone in a professional rather than social setting. Today, the rules that govern online interactions are deemed “Netiquette.” Students interacting online should try and input thoughtful contributions as much as possible. During face-to-face conversations individuals who sit back, listen and comment occasionally in conversations are still viewed as part of the discussion. Those who are less active in online conversations can easily be forgotten and viewed as absent even if you are actively keeping up with the conversation. Be careful how your comments might be interpreted online since your readers do not have visual or tonal cues to determine your meaning. An offhand joke or minor constructive criticism can be viewed as aggressive and disrespectful. Additionally, you should never use caps when writing because it can be conveyed as shouting. Online content should be precise and to the point. Students are encouraged to bullet or number either questions or central ideas to dissuade any potential confusion. Continue reading