How to Connect with Peers While Learning Online

Getting an online degree is the next step for many especially for those wanting to further their careers. For many, though, it is also the first time working in an online environment. As they transition from the traditional face-to-face learning style to a virtual classroom, for some, this new environment can, at first, seem isolating.

A classroom where students and the teacher meet to grow and learn together is the traditional style of education; however, in today’s technology-driven world, the online classroom can offer virtually the same type of learning environment. Community is formed as students and educators work together toward an online degree. Online classes are structured to give this new community a chance to bond together — using ongoing discussions, chats and message boards. Students, just like in face-to-face interactions, share information and give others hints on how to study for tests. There are message boards, discussion centers and some online courses even offer video conferencing. In-depth conversations regarding the subject matter can and does happen daily — leading to a close-knit family of educators who work together. Establishing a relationship with the instructor is also important, and easy; instructors are highly-experienced in the subject matter and can help students grasp the topics — and easily accessible via online communication.

By participating and diving into online courses, some students discover that they feel even more connected to their peers than in a traditional classroom. Communicating with instructors and fellow students is as easy as typing, and everyone is available in the structure of cohort groups to share knowledge and help one another reach the finish line. Discussion boards, in fact, tend to give students a place to be more vocal than they could be in a regular classroom. No hoping to be spotted with a raised hand in a sea of raised hands, or trying to shout over other voices, or waiting in line for a one-on-one. Post your comment, send your email, add your response o a thread –it couldn’t be easier. If someone is having trouble with a chapter or a topic, discussing it with the class and getting feedback is as simple as hitting “send.”

The most important thing to remember is that students and instructors are together in a highly-structured communication environment, where thought has been taken in terms of tools used and interactions needed. Getting an online dgree is not only taking a step to better your career, but also moves you into a peer group and allows you to connect with other passionate people.

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