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4 ways to connect with others as an online student

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Diving into the world of online studies can be daunting for a variety of reasons – having to set your own study schedule, manage everything in the digital space, and ensuring all your technological requirements are met, to name a few – but what may prove as one of its biggest challenges is the absence of face-to-face communication amongst both teachers and fellow classmates.

Fortunately, you needn’t be too intimidated with the array of digital resources at your disposal. We’ve laid out the four main ways you can efficiently keep in touch with other students in your course, making your life as an online learner a lot less isolating.

Do they have an intranet?

4 ways to connect with others as an online student

If they do – use it! Educational institutions will usually provide their online students with a customised e-Learning platform to assist with all their course and communication needs. The resources available on these ‘learning portals’ include study materials such with as online readings and lectures, and communication tools for keeping in contact with student support services, your educational trainers, and fellow students.

For example, Upskilled students can regularly connect with others in their course via our online learning platform, MyUpskilled.

Here, they are given access to course materials such as webinars, video training, PowerPoint presentations, and study texts. For any support or assistance they may need, a messaging system is set in place between trainers and their students, where they can conveniently keep in contact through phone or email. A help desk is also provided in case of any administration enquiries.

Since intranets are set in place to exclusively make your student journey easier, take time to explore the provided systems that make your educational support network readily available. 

Making personal connections with students in online courses 

  1. Be an active communicator.
  2. Make the most of social media.
  3. Form a study group.

1. Be an active communicator.

On the subject of intranets and the communication methods they provide, make use of any discussion boards or classroom forums that may be accessible in your course. These digital spaces are a great way for you to introduce yourself and meet others in your degree with similar educational goals and interests. Take the time to read and reply to the posts shared; when discussions pop up surrounding course assessments and related topics, this is the chance to share your knowledge and collaborate with others on their ideas.

Forums are also an excellent medium for providing feedback and critiquing one’s take on a particular topic, as well as the opportunity for peer reviews.  Research by The Design Studio has shown that that this practice improves one’s skills of evaluative judgement, so go ahead and trade assessment feedback with someone who needs it – not only are you connecting with others in your course, but you’re getting some valuable, third-party advice (and giving some of your own) while you’re at it, too.

If you’re after a more personal mode of communication, you can always use the old-fashioned email method to get in touch with someone (or two) in your degree. This helps to avoid getting lost in the sea of forum posts and allows you to make quick, direct contact with individuals in your field.

2. Make the most of social media.

4 ways to connect with others as an online student

In an era where nearly everyone is connected via some form of social media, it’d be a waste not to make use of the platforms available to reach out to fellow classmates. 85% of Australians have been reported to use these channels for the very reason of keeping in touch with others, with 91% of them active on Facebook  – so go ahead; send out those friend requests and get to know your online classmates on even more personal level.  

Chances are, your institution may be even provide its students with Facebook groups to encourage connection and discussion amongst trainers, mentors, and peers in your chosen field of study. For example, Upskilled provides its online learners with a number of closed ‘study groups’ on Facebook, depending on their course. This centralises the process of reaching out to those studying the same degree as you, and thus, social media connections are made more convenient.

While Facebook is a highly popular platform of choice, let’s not forget about the power of LinkedIn networking. As the most successful and frequently used professional network in Australia (with approximately 4,500,000 active users monthly – and counting!), connecting with your virtual classmates though the platform can help you gain further insight on what they know (or what they are up to) in your chosen field, and the industry experts they may be in contact with.

You never know; you may just get your profile in the eyes of a head-hunter or other professionals who can help with your career interests.

3. Form a study group.

4 ways to connect with others as an online student

Once you’ve established rapport, you may find it helpful to form an exclusive study group with some of your peers. Not only are you guaranteed consistent engagement with the study materials (as your groupmates will likely rely on you to hold up your end of the work), but close communication such as this provides the opportunity to build a few long-term friendships.

Even if you don’t turn out to be lifetime buddies, this is a great chance to do some effective networking – you may just need their expertise long after you finish your course.

Plus, with everything online, you get the added bonus of catching up whenever, wherever. This makes communication over assessments a more efficient, convenient task; all you need is Skype or Facebook Messenger.
Learning online will mean a lack of the full, bustling classroom experience, yes – but with today’s digital advancements, there are many ways to keep in constant touch with your peers, educational trainers, and student support network, without the hassling need for face-to-face meetings. All it takes is putting yourself out there in the online sphere, and you’re bound to encounter a fellow student (or a few) who align with your interests and study objectives.

Are you ready to start online study?

Remember, it’s good to see the online classroom as any regular, physical classroom – the ones who frequently contribute to the dialogue attract the most interaction and feedback, compared to the ‘passive’ ones who sit back and stay quiet.

Interested in online study? Be sure to check out our list of available courses  here at Upskilled.  
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