Engaging in the Online Classroom

Engaging in the online classroom can initially seem like a peculiar process. After all, everyone understands the dynamics of a traditional university experience. Normally, students travel to campus, physically enter a classroom, and listen to a teacher impart knowledge for a designated class period each day. Online classrooms, however, exist in the digital sphere. Students attend lectures, read course materials, and interact with others at any time of day, all by way of an internet connection. This new model of education provides an exciting, convenient, and meaningful avenue towards earning your degree.

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How do online classes work?

Using technology

Technology is essential to online learner engagement. When you enroll in an online course, you’ll need certain technology and equipment to participate. Common requirements include high-speed internet access, speakers or headphones, an up-to-date computer operating system, word processing software, a CD or DVD drive, and a microphone.

More than ever, students are using the technology they interact with daily for educational purposes. In fact, 67% of online students use mobile devices to complete their coursework, such as phones and tablets. One of the many benefits of online learning is that the technology it requires is already built into the fabric of modern life.

How to take online classes

When you take a course online, it is usually connected to a larger academic institution that offers a traditional campus experience. Instead of visiting a school building, online students must log in to a learning management system (LMS). An LMS serves as a digital home base, where you can find your coursework, view calendars, turn in assignments, and interact with both your professor and your peers. Popular systems include Moodle, Blackboard, and Canvas.

Classes are formatted in two ways: synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous classes require all students to log on at a certain time each week to participate in real-time instruction. Asynchronous classes allow students to read course materials and turn in assignments whenever they wish within a certain time frame. Although they differ, both synchronous and asynchronous courses share certain elements. For example, both require you to complete coursework on time and participate in class discussions. Both also may make use of certain LMS elements, such as shared whiteboards, online slideshows, file attachments, virtual libraries, or blogs.

The Instructor’s Role: Engaging Online Learners

It’s important to understand engagement of online study beyond the practical aspects of course participation. Online degree programs allow you to find mentorship with your instructors and build professional networks with your peers. They allow you to grow as an academically minded person and as a professional. Therefore, your instructors should be excellent at encouraging and facilitating these aspects.

When you look for an online course, see what you can find out about your potential professors. A good online instructor should do the following:

Get to know you. Instructors should aim to make the environment feel comfortable for everyone. They should speak to all students respectfully and get to know their individual learning needs.

Understand the mechanics of online classes. Although it might sound strange, some online instructors may not understand how to interact with the platform they teach on. If you need technical help, make sure they can answer your question or direct you to someone else who can.


Be accessible. Whether they hold office hours, regularly check their email, or give out a private phone number, good instructors make an effort to stay available for their students and to engage in regular communication.

Care. Good instructors check up on their students every so often. They should know if you’re doing well or if you need some extra help.

Do the best they can to help their students thrive. Instructors should give you meaningful feedback and point out both what you’re doing right and what you need improvement on. They shouldn’t be rude or belittle you, and should be invested in your success.

Although instructors play a key role in your success, you are ultimately the one who will decide whether or not you will achieve your goals in online education.

Make the Most of Your Online Experience

To truly feel engaged in an online course is partially an inside job. Online degrees are largely self-directed, meaning that it’s up to you to get the most out of your time as student. Here are some tips you should know.

Moving Towards Your Future

Online degrees are proving to be not only a feasible alternative to traditional higher education, but a game-changing one. Students are able to earn degrees, increase their earning potential, and advance their career online with ultimate convenience and affordability. But online degree programs require work. The more you engage as an online student, the better situated you will be for positive professional outcomes and a better quality of life.

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