How To Connect With Students In An Online Course

By Danielle Wirsansky on April 25, 2016

Some people prefer taking online courses. Others have no choice and need to take them for one reason or another. Regardless, you are taking an online course and one of the hardest things about doing so is the lack of community.

In a classroom setting, you are with the same people every day and camaraderie forms between students. You can create study groups, ask each other questions about assignments, or get notes you may have missed. But in an online class, it can seem anonymous and just a little daunting.

How can you connect with fellow students in your courses when you are taking online courses? Read on to find out!

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Make Connections Right Away

As soon as your online course begins, try reaching out. Begin building a community from the get-go. It will be much easier to do and the other students will be much more receptive to it if you start at the beginning. Make interactions with your fellow online classmates a habit so that when you actually need their assistance, you already have a support system in place. If you wait until the last minute, when it is an emergency and you really need someone’s assistance, it might be too late. No one might be interested in or willing to help you when you really need it.

You might not need any help like that at all, but why take a chance? Be prepared for what might happen. And if someone else needs help, help them! Give them the help that you would want to receive if you were in their situation. What you give is what you will get.

Waiting until the last minute to reach out to your fellow online classmates, or until it is crunch time, will leave a bad impression with them as well. Sometimes, only reaching out when you need something can come across as grasping or could rub your classmates the wrong way. It might make it seem like you were not doing your work or were not paying attention in class. And especially if you ignored other people’s calls for help, the online class community will not be so forgiving and helpful in your time of need.

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Respond to Introductions

Many teachers or courses assign an “Introduce Yourself” task as the very first assignment. It is usually something posted in a discussion board that every student can peruse. Many people kind of blow this assignment off, just arbitrarily answering the questions with little or no thought.

But how can your fellow students really get to know you or feel comfortable reaching out to you if your introduction is impersonal and generic? Take the time to answer the questions honestly and with careful thought. You want to give your fellow students a good impression of you so that others looking to form that same community will be interested in reaching out to you.

In the same way, you should go through the other students’ responses and see if there are any other students that sound like they are interested in the same things, that might be a good prospect for you to reach out to in order to begin forming your online class community and support group. Like they say, birds of a feather flock together, and online courses are no different.

You can start out by simply responding to these other introductions. Be genuine in your responses and begin making connections with the other students in your posts. Are you both in the same major? How cool! Are you both from the same hometown? Neato! Do you have similar career goals? This person could be a great help in your future. Consider it a virtual networking opportunity. Find ways to relate and connect to your fellow classmates so they are more than just a username on your computer screen.

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Doing these things will make reaching out so much easier and smoother for you, which will in turn make the process of taking an online course easier and smoother for you! Do not disregard the importance and support that your fellow online class students can provide to you.

Be fearless and reach out!

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre and a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History. She is a second year graduate student in FSU's History department where she serves as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor).

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