The path to an education via the distance learning route can be a solitary, lonely journey. You and your computer become hard and fast allies; if you’re smart, you stay in regular contact with the course instructor. Beyond that, the path you follow is completely under your own direction. This isolation from interactions with fellow students is one of the top drawbacks mentioned when the topic of distance learning is discussed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you should do everything in your power to avoid isolating yourself from other students. The whole concept of online education opens up an entire cybersphere of opportunities. You should take advantage of them.
1) On the first day of your distance learning course, check into the course chat room. Introduce yourself and provide a little background about yourself and your goals. You may be surprised how many interesting and interested people in your class respond back to you. You can often learn as much by communicating online with your classmates as you could in face to face interactions in a classroom. These same students may show up again and again in your classes as you pursue your education requirements.
2) Jump at the chance to work on team projects in your class. There, working closely with one or more other students, you can share ideas and work towards a common goal. Because you are connecting online, you may actually have more time to express your thoughts and work together than if you were in a traditional classroom setting.
3) Suggest group online study sessions when it comes time to prepare for quizzes and exams. Perhaps your instructor might agree to participate in a round table type of discussion where he or she throws out course related questions to any interested students and they can begin a dialog to share what they have learned or to seek answers where they still have questions.
4) After you get to know some of your fellow classmates you may be able to arrange face to face meetings. Not all cyber education takes place on a worldwide platform. Often the other students are enrolled in the same school and live in the same city. Some students participate in education strictly on a fulltime basis. Others attend some traditional classes while supplementing their course requirements with a smattering of distance learning courses. It’s entirely possible to get to know your classmates on a personal basis.
Whatever your method of pursuing your education, make an effort to be open and cheerful any time you connect with other students. You can create as many long term relationships in the distance learning environment as in the traditional arena.