A sense of community can be hard to find within the constraints of online college classes. You don’t get the chance to say, “let’s meet up after class!” to your fellow students, you’re probably off-campus and can’t join any clubs, and your classroom is a computer screen.
Despite the challenges you face being an online student, your online college classes may help you find that community you’re looking for.
Time Is Not a Limit In
Meeting up in the same place at different times is part of what makes the online environment work. You do not have to make yourself available during your professors’ office hours to communicate with them. Nor do you have to show up to class a few minutes early to be able to talk with your classmates.
You can reach out at any time if you have a question or comment about the class.
Additionally, because you’re not limited to an hour in the classroom (during which your professor is trying to teach the information), you’re not limited in sharing your thoughts and research. In this way, the online classroom allows student exploration and conversations nearly impossible within a traditional classroom.
Discussion Boards – Your New BFF
Most online classes have required discussion board posts, as well as follow-up responses. This alone creates more student-to-student interaction than you would generally see in a traditional class.
Class participation doesn’t have to end after the required work is done. You may initially be concerned about leaving more comments than the professor asks for, but don’t be! Most professors love to see conversations develop based on discussion board prompts and weekly readings.
Sharing is Easy
Did you find an interesting article related to topics discussed in class? It’s easy to upload it directly into a discussion board to share with everybody. Rather than having to print enough copies for everybody, then waiting until the next class period to discuss the topic, you’ve opened the door to new discussions and shared ideas.
Additionally, giving your classmates a digital copy means your classmates can always refer back to the article you shared.
You Build Your Community With Online College Classes
Ultimately, as with traditional classes, you get out what you put in. If you do the minimum work required to pass, you’ll gain minimal connections. If you put in the extra effort to connect and create conversation, your professors and fellow students will reach out to match you.