It is true that having quality interactions with professors is more of a challenge in an online educational setting than in a traditional one. It is not impossible, however. The amount and type of interactions you have is partly dependent on your professors, and largely dependent on you. This article will help you figure out if online education is right for you.
Conduct Your Own Research
If the names of the professors are listed for the school or classes you are interested in, contact them directly. Ask them how they interact with their online students, and how often. If it does not seem like enough, suggest your ideas for increased interaction, and ask if they would be willing to accommodate them. If you are already a student at the school, they may even add you as an observer to an existing online course, so that you can see first hand what their format is like.
Make the Effort
Once enrolled in an online course or program, you share in the responsibility of initiating interaction. Many schools offer, and some require, attendance at in-person events; take advantage of them. Email your professor often. Ask to hold important conversations on the telephone, which provides immediacy of response and increases the level of interaction to include tone of voice. If brief video conferencing is not a built-in aspect, but one that would benefit you in a particular instance, ask. If you live near the main campus, ask for an in-person meeting. Even one such interaction can provide a warmer foundation that makes you feel more connected to the professor and the course.
When approaching instructors about altering the level of interaction, it helps to think about it from their point of view. If is rare that good professors will deny students reasonable requests that are aimed at improving academic success. Click here to read an article published by professors about the importance of online professor-student interactions.
How Much Interaction Are You Really Missing?
Stop and think about how much you actually interact with your professors in face-to-face classes. How often do you speak with them before or after class? How often do you attend office hours? Do you mainly communicate with them by email? How much do you actively participate in in-class discussions versus learning by observation? With the advancements in current technology, you will probably find that if you follow the above suggestions, you can easily make up for lack of face-to-face time. Figure out how many hours a week you miss out on in-person conversations, and spend that much time each week contacting your professor via a remote method. Online students often find that because they are required to put more effort into fostering interactions with professors, they actually end up having more interactions in online as compared to traditional learning environments. Click here for an article published by US News about the surprising realities and tips for successful online learning.
Online education offers flexibility, and it is often much cheaper than traditional education. The trade-off is the added challenge of creating quality interactions with professors. If you decide this trade-off is worth it for you, following the tips above will help you have a fulfilling and successful learning experience.
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