How to Connect with Classmates in an Online Learning Environment

By Ariana Jackson - February 5th, 2018

online learner

Being a distance-learning student is a different experience from learning in a traditional environment. What doesn’t have to be so different, however, is the ability to make connections and stay in touch with classmates.

Getting to Know Your Classmates

Introduce yourself. Usually the first discussion in an online class involves introductions. Use this as an opportunity to get to know your classmates beyond just their degree program. By sharing your goals and interests, you may find that you’re able to quickly and easily connect with classmates who share similar preferences.

Participate more actively in discussions. Don’t just participate in the required weekly class discussions for your grade. Take a little extra time when you log in to your courses to share what’s going on in your life; interesting, non-controversial content you’ve found online; or relevant light-hearted news stories that you and your classmates can discuss in an off-topic section of your course discussion boards.

Consider virtual study groups. Study groups are fairly common on traditional campuses, and with tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, they can be easily created online, as well. Try to find a small group of three to five other students with similar work and life schedules, and set up weekly virtual meetings to discuss assignments, share notes, and prepare for tests.

Find an accountability partner. Commonly used as a term in fitness and business, an accountability partner is a person, often a peer, who can help you to keep a goal and avoid distractions. Sometimes this arrangement is mutual, meaning that both partners keep one another accountable for their actions. By finding an accountability partner in your course, you and your partner can check in to remind each other when assignments are due. You may be more likely to participate and complete assignments on time when someone else is there to help remind and support you, and vice versa.


Staying Connected After Classes End

Connect via LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, as appropriate. If you have made genuine connections with your classmates, consider reaching out via social media to stay in touch after your classes end.

Join an Honor Society. If you’re eligible to join an honor society, you can receive benefits like event invitations, networking opportunities, and scholarship opportunities. By inviting classmates to join these societies with you, you can potentially look forward to bonding beyond graduation.

Once you’ve graduated, take advantage of alumni resources and networks. There are many opportunities for alumni to mentor students, network with other alumni, and access career and advancement opportunities that may not be publicly known.

Forging bonds with your classmates online can have similar academic, social, and possible career-related benefits, thanks to the tools we have available to keep us connected and current.


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