The process of earning online degrees and traditional degrees can differ greatly. However, thanks to advances in technology, communication with instructors can be very similar, which can help students adjust to an online educational program.
Many instructors have adapted to online communication via e-mail and instant messaging. Those familiar with basic e-mail shouldn’t have a difficult time adapting to communication with online degree instructors, as generally the first and foremost means of communication for individuals looking to interact with their instructors is e-mail.
E-mail is a great way to introduce yourself to your new instructors, since you generally won’t have the face-to-face interaction of a traditional education when partaking in an online degree program. E-mail will then usually be your go-to communication with your instructor when you have any questions.
If you are using a personal account, be sure to add your instructor’s e-mail to your address book to receive the necessary e-mails you will need for classes. If you are having trouble getting e-mails from your professors, check your spam folders. You may need to adjust your spam filter or “white list” your professor’s e-mail address. This involves putting the e-mail address on a list of trusted people so your spam filters won’t block important e-mails.
E-mail is your most important means of communication when participating in an online degree program so make sure that you have the means of receiving your e-mails. Free accounts are available through a variety of hosts, like Gmail, AOL, MSN and many others. No matter what you use, be sure that the account has the capability to handle large e-mails. If you are sending in multimedia presentations or papers to your professor, you want to make sure your e-mail can handle it.
Though online communication bears a close resemblance to traditional communication, earning online degrees breeds even more digital opportunities when interacting with faculty. Beyond e-mail, one of the most common methods that instructors use to communicate with students is discussion boards. Instructors can initiate, mediate and sustain conversation on discussion boards about course topics through digital means with active participation from individuals in the course. These discussion boards are one of the best tools used in online degree programs for instructors to maintain contact with their class as a whole and help to create a classroom environment. You will want to maintain active participation on your class discussion board to stay involved in classroom discussion and to get help with class work and assignments. Though not all institutions or courses have this option, this is a fairly common way that instructors communicate and interact with their students.
Other methods that institutions use to bolster student and instructor relations are through the use of instant messaging and real-time chatting. Though the options vary from school to school and course to course, this is another great way to maintain connections and communications between students and instructors. This option of communication can be a great tool in getting immediate answers and quick assistance when trying to complete an online degree program.
Some online degree programs even offer office hours for their individual instructors. Depending upon your feasibility and location in comparison to your instructor’s office, this may be a great way to get some face-to-face time with your instructor to help you out with your studies in your online degree program. If you have the means of traveling or if your instructor gives you the opportunity to come in for office hours, you will definitely want to take advantage of this firsthand interaction to connect with your instructor.
Whichever means of communication you choose to use, the best thing you can do is connect with your instructor to establish and maintain a relationship with them in the beginning of your course. Whether this means scheduling appointments during their office hours or emailing on a daily basis to stay on track with your studies, communication is a key element in education, regardless of its online or traditional nature. Because online degree programs are distant to begin with, you will want to reinforce a more personal relationship that may be harder to initiate online than in a traditional degree program. The better your instructor knows you, the better he or she is able to help you with your work, and further, the better you will be at finding success in your studies.
Take the time to let your instructor know who you are so you can get the most out of your online degree program.