Your online instructor is a busy person but is prepared to provide the assistance you need to complete your online course. You will enjoy your course more and make fewer mistakes if you establish regular contact. Here are some hints for communicating with your instructor:
- Check in with your instructor regularly.
Don't be afraid that you will bother your instructor with too much email. Increased communication will save both you and your instructor time in the long run. Share your experience of the course: both your confusions and what you like.
- Don't be offended if your instructor points you to other resources.
Your instructor receive a great amount of email. To stay sane, he or she will often refer you to other resources that should answer your question instead of rewriting an answer that appears elsewhere. This is to help you become aware of resources in your course site and to help your instructor get through long lists of mail. It's not because they don't like you.
- Use email as your first mode of communication.
This is an online class, and one of the goals is to make the course available at any time of day from a variety of places. You and your instructor will not always be (and in some cases, may never be) online at the same time. That makes email, an "asynchronous" form of communication, an ideal way to interact. Please use email as your first contact option.
When you have a question about your course, follow the procedure indicated by your instructor. Some instructions prefer for you to click on the "Communcication" button and then "Send EMail" to send an email message to your instructor. Other instructors prefer for you to post questions on the Discussion Board.
- But don't be afraid to try other forms of contact.
Sometimes, forms of communication other than email will be more appropriate. Sometimes nothing can replace the immediacy of phone or face-to-face contact. Other times, you'll want to interact with both your instructor and other students via the discussion board. A variety of contact information for your instructor is usually available under the "Staff Information" button or in the "Course Syllabus."
- Check your email regularly
Sometimes your instructor will send time sensitive material via email. If you only check your email once a week, you may not get the message before it is too late. Even if you do nothing else for your online course on a particular day, you should try to check your email once.
- Use specific subject lines for your messages.
Your instructor will make decisions about which email messages to read first. Use specific subject lines to help them do this sorting. If you need an immediate answer, put the word "urgent" in your email title. If you have a question, start the subject with "Question about..." Refer to specific assignments when needed.
- Be specific in the content of your messages.
To help your instructor respond to you, be specific about who you are and what you need. In every message, identify your full name, the course you are taking (and section you are in if there are more than one), the assignment, reading, or unit you are working on, and the specific information you are requesting in reply. This will help your instructor answer your question quickly and completely.
- Your instructor will respond within 48 hours, usually earlier unless you send a message during a holiday.
He or she needs time to process all of the mail that comes in and think about your question or do some research before writing back. If you don't receive a response within that time frame, send your message again. Accidents can happen, and your instructor may have lost track of your original message or not realized that a response was requested. Again, this is not personal, it's just a mistake that anyone can make when they deal with hundreds of messages a day. Be persistent, and your question will be answered! If you must have an earlier response, put the word "urgent" in your subject line or try a phone call. Remember: Instructors, like you, may not respond to messages during holidays. Plan accordingly.