One of the major challenges faced in the online learning environment is the communication gap between the teacher and the students. This communication gap leads to many other problems like low course completion rate among students, lack of engagement, etc. Effective communication is not only required to retain students but also to build a sense of community among the students.
Students in an online classroom are more likely to feel isolated when compared to a traditional classroom. Therefore the goal of communication in an online classroom is the same as the goal in any traditional classroom, which is to build a bond and share knowledge effectively.
So here are a few things you can do to improve your communication with your online students
- Make your contact information clear
This is the first and most important step while starting your online course. You need to provide your contact information at a prominent location so that all your students can contact you in case of any query. You can also provide information on how long your students might have to wait in order to get a reply from your end so that they don’t have to panic in case they don’t receive a reply.
- Provide the option for live interaction
In the case of self-paced courses, when any learner is really struggling with the course we know that nothing would help them better than a live conversation with the teacher. In case a student or a group of students need a query cleared, you can send them calendar invites and set up meetings with them on platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.
If you are taking live classes, you can provide some time at the beginning or end of a session so that students can address their doubts, if they have any, or you can also use this time to get to know your students better.
- Get involved in discussion forums
Many Learning Management Systems (LMS) these days have a discussion forum within the platform to help the teachers and students communicate with each other. As an instructor, you can use the discussion forum to share interesting content like news or videos related to the course topic to keep the students engaged. Also checking out the contents posted by the students and commenting on them will give students a feeling that their ideas are being read and encourage them to work harder.
- Provide meaningful feedback
When students submit their assignments or give presentations, you give them personalized feedback through mail or other methods so that they don’t get discouraged and know that someone is actually looking at their work.
- Be aware of your responsibilities
Being an online teacher you have certain responsibilities of improving your communication methods with students. If your learners are struggling to complete a course do not always assume that they are not doing their part. Instead, you need to look for areas of improvement in your course or your online teaching methods. As an online teacher, you need to lead the way for your students in making them comfortable so that they feel comfortable in addressing their queries. Also, you need to realize that when you are communicating with your students it’ll be difficult for them to understand your tone as there is no personal connection between you and your students. Going through your messages clearly can help you avoid any misunderstandings with your students.