Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Communicating Effectively as an Online Student

Cover of "Effective Communication"
Cover of Effective Communication
by Dr Bruce Johnson

Online students have a unique opportunity available to them for communicating with their instructors because most are easily accessible by email or other forms of communication that have been made available.

Instead of waiting for a class time or specific office hours, online students know that they can receive a response within a relatively short period of time when they choose to communicate by email.

Instructors may also provide an option for contact by phone or instant messaging.

A problem that occurs with digital communication is that students may feel empowered to speak freely because of the anonymity associated with this form of contact.

When this occurs students often communicate reactively based upon an emotional response related to a classroom incident, feedback received, or anything else that has been perceived in a negative manner.

What this does is create barriers to meaningful interactions and portrays an uncooperative attitude. If the tone of the message is perceived as being aggressive this can demonstrate disrespect for the instructor.

Students must learn how to communicate effectively in the online environment so they can build productive working relationships and receive the assistance they need.

It's All about Your Attitude

As a student, you must learn to think before you act or react. Whether you are asking a question or responding to something that has occurred in the classroom you must first decide if you are going to ask for help or demand help.

You express this through the tone of your message which includes making the right word choices and avoiding extreme punctuation. For example, typing in ALL CAPS can be seen as SHOUTING. The use of multiple exclamation marks can also be seen as shouting or aggressive behavior.

If you are frustrated, write out what you are feeling on a separate piece of paper and then wait to edit it until you have been able to regain your composure.

Once you shift from an emotional state back to a logical and rational perspective, then you can begin to create your email or other forms of communication. Keep in mind that this is not a matter of "students versus instructors" as your instructors want you to succeed and do well in class.

Don't assume that something is being done intentionally to you, rather ask for guidance and assistance.

Expectations Matter

As you begin to think about sending some form of communication to your instructor, ask yourself: what do you expect your instructor to do when they receive your message.

For example, a brief message that states "it won't let me" doesn't really provide your instructor with an indication of how they can assist you. You need to learn to clarify what it is you need or are asking so that you can receive a helpful reply.

It is also important to know what the school policies and procedures consist of, along with the expectations of your instructors. This is an area of confusion for students at times because their needs or request may not align with what is allowed by the school or their instructors.

As an example, if the student sends an email and indicates that they are ill that day, what do they expect the instructor to do? Since an online classroom is open virtually any time of the day you should be able to complete your work, unless there is a medical reason why you are incapacitated. What this means is that your requests need to be realistic in nature.

For example, waiting until the last minute when an assignment is due and sending a request for an extension is also not a realistic expectation for an online class.

Learn to communicate frequently with your instructors so that you have established a rapport and you can contact them as soon an extenuating circumstance arises.

Developing Effective Communication

When you are ready to send an appropriate method of contact to your instructor, especially with emails, begin with a warm and welcoming tone to your message. Be sure that you respect your instructor's credentials and their preferred name.

Begin your communication with a request for assistance so that you establish you are asking for help rather than demanding specific conditions.

Next, clearly and concisely indicate what assignment or task is related to your request. Then provide an overview of the steps you have taken or what you have done to address the primary concern for this communication.

What you are doing is establishing a clear path for your instructor to review and respond to, which will lead to a productive outcome.

As an online student anonymity should never be leveraged when communicating with your instructors. They are owed a level of respect whether or not you believe they have earned it.

They also have your best interest at heart and can better assist you when you are in a receptive frame of mind and have provided a well-developed and well thought out message.

Effective communication means that you have established a productive working relationship with your instructors through any form of digital contact. This requires proactive and ongoing interactions rather than aggressive, emotional, or reactive responses. Use the ability to contact your instructor as a means of supporting your ongoing success and development.

Dr. Bruce Johnson has had a life-long love of learning and throughout his entire career he has been involved in many forms of adult education through his work as an educator, trainer, career coach, and mentor.

Dr. J has completed a Master in Business Administration (MBA) and a PhD in Education, with a specialization in Postsecondary and Adult Education. Presently Dr. J works as an online college professor, faculty developmental workshop facilitator, faculty mentor, faculty peer reviewer, and professional writer.

Dr. J's first eBook, APPRECIATIVE ANDRAGOGY: TAKING the Distance Out of Distance Learning, is available for sale in paperback, and also available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo devices. Learn more by visiting http://www.affordablequalitywriting.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dr_Bruce_Johnson

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