Interacting with online professors can be daunting. Often, virtual communication is more difficult than a face-to-face meeting. But, there’s no need to fear. Follow these ten suggestions and you’ll be able to get the help you need.
1. Relax.Your online professors want to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when it’s necessary.
2. Introduce yourself.As soon as you begin an online class, take a minute to introduce yourself to the professor. Say hello in a class chat or drop him a quick email. You’ll be more comfortable dealing with someone you know if a problem arises.
3. Seek answers from designated areas first.Professors are eager to help with legitimate problems. But, they don’t want to waste time when the answers can be found elsewhere. If you have a basic class question, first seek solutions from the class syllabus, website, and general discussion boards.
4. Re-read your emails. Emails can often be misunderstood. Whenever sending an email to your professor, re-read to make sure that your message is clear and your tone is intentional.
5. Listen. When you receive a response, make sure you pay attention to what the professor is saying. Re-reading his emails will help you avoid missing the details.
6. Approach before the student rush.After a challenging assignment or an important test, your professor is going to be inundated with emails. Anticipate any problems and try to approach him beforehand, when he’ll have more time to give your concern attention.
7. Ask politely.Even an online professor is in the wrong, it’s always smart to keep your communications polite. Remember that emails, message board posts, and chat discussions are often saved.
8. Expect fairness.Avoid asking for favors that would be unfair to other students. If you have a legitimate need, your professor will be more willing to work with you than if you just want to whine about a grade.
9. Don’t go over his head.In extreme cases, online students may find it necessary to complain about a course to the school administration. But, it’s almost always best to solve problems directly with the professor. If you have a non-urgent complaint about the course, work with the instructor or save it for the evaluations.
10. If web communications break down, ask for a phone meeting.Sometimes emails and internet chats just don’t cut it. If you have a concern that isn’t getting solved online, ask your professor to set up a phone meeting. If you live near the school’s brick-and-mortar campus you may even want to meet in person.