5 Elements To Better Connection And Communication With Online Students

Elements For Effective Connection And Communication With Online Students

To make herself truly tangible and three dimensional for her students, the instructor must make every effort to communicate across multiple modes of media as well as be responsive and available in the ways that best suit her student population.

To achieve better connection and communication with online students:

  1. Use visual elements.
    This could mean something as simple as uploading a picture to accompany a discussion board post, or using an avatar or a favorite photo if privacy is a concern. This allows for simultaneous stimulation of multiple sensory modalities; the student will actually “see” the instructor, something we take for granted at a brick and mortar university, but it is more challenging to do in an asynchronous environment.
  2. Incorporate audio communications.
    Podcasts are an easy way to allow students to hear the voice of the instructor. There are many free education technologies that can provide this service, and most computers come equipped with a microphone that is sensitive enough to suffice. Voice allows for tone in inflection, something that is very challenging to achieve in the written word, and it will resonate with students who learn through hearing.
  3. Remember specific details about your students.
    One tip is to generate a spreadsheet with notes on each student, including nicknames, hometown, favorite hobbies or sports teams. Students will appreciate any time an instructor can incorporate these details into a response or feedback.
  4. Be available when students need help.
    Faculty presence is fundamental in an online environment, especially if students are located all over the world. Consider varying office hours to accommodate different time zones and work schedules.
  5. Use methods of communication that students are fluent in or prefer to use.
    Email is an inefficient way to communicate in an asynchronous environment; consider giving students a telephone number to call if that is within university guidelines. If privacy is a concern, sites like Google allow for the generation of a free number that will ring to an instructor’s office or personal phone line.

These simple tips on how to achieve better connection and communication with online students are not time intensive for the instructor and will illustrate to students that they are much more than just a name in a class. By using these techniques, teachers will demonstrate their commitment to student success.

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