Will I have help available taking online courses or am I on my own?

As expected, one of the first concerns that potential online learners worry about is the fact that as you are at home completing your coursework requirements, you will not have the sufficient access to help, if needed. What will you do if you are stumped and don’t know where to turn to next? Who can help you understand what you’re missing? Is there anyone available for help so you can complete your lesson on time? All of these are legitimate concerns and might discourage you from trying online programs. Typically, online schools realize the importance of gaining assistance when you need it and have a support system in place for you when you have a question or concern about an assignment.

First, please realize that the same quality of education that you would expect from a traditional classroom also applies to the online learning format, therefore, often the same faculty and professors are teaching both types of classes. As online learning has become an accessible and convenient way to expand your horizons, the need for assistance also spans a 24-hour, seven days a week timeline. As asking your professor a direct question may be your preferred way of getting help, it may not be the most realistic, especially if they are amid teaching a class at your time of need. Impending deadlines and the need for help can be frustrating for an online student; however, there are several ways to contact faculty. Through an online course, it will be your responsibility to learn the proper methods of reaching your professor, classmates and school administration. Here are a few suggestions.

Before you begin an online program, please be familiar with the course management system (CMS) that your school uses, such as Blackboard. You will also need to be adequately familiar with your computer, and its basic operations, as well as, the other components necessary to complete your course, such as speakers, web camera, headphones, microphone, high-speed Internet connection, and perhaps a DVD/CD Rom drive. You should know how to use your equipment beforehand so that you can follow their instructions efficiently.

Rest assured, professors are more than aware that you will have questions and concerns; therefore, they know the importance of replying to your requests promptly. Furthermore, the school’s policy will also ensure that your inquiries are answered efficiently. So, how should you contact a professor? Learning management systems will often provide each student with a portal to contact their professor through an email that is directly connected to your professor. As sending an email is the most direct approach, you must be proficient in written communication. You will need to state your concern in a manner that is clear and concise. Always keep emails on file in case you need verification later.

Do professors accept phone calls? Of course, they do; however, if they are teaching, you will need to leave a message. Can you text them? Of course, but the same applies, as they may be too busy at the time to respond. But, without a doubt, they will get back to you. Also, if you would like to communicate with a professor face-to-face, video conferencing is another option. This format allows the student to contact a professor with the assistance of a web camera. Instructors often have set hours for this format in which they are available to their students.

Most online schools also offer support centers for “after hours.” Your professor will not be available 24/7; however, if your online learning requires you to attend class at odd hours, you may need immediate help. For those students, a virtual concierge can help you navigate your way. From the beginning, you should learn the proper telephone numbers and hours that each school’s department is open to video chats and messages.

To summarize, be aware of your assignment deadlines. Don’t wait till the last minute to complete your work only to find out that you have a pertinent question and you can’t get a response in time to complete your assignment; this is where critical time management is mandatory. Also, you can often contact your professors and classmates through discussion boards and social media. Perhaps, the most important tip when seeking online assistance is to be thankful for the help of others. Do not be demanding. Remember that an emergency on your part does not constitute an urgency on the support team’s part. They are there to help, but they do not respond to bullies. You won’t be entirely on your own if you are respectful and gracious in your requests.

Finally, before enrolling in an online program, you should check the school’s reviews concerning this issue. If you find that many students have past grievances concerning their professor’s response time, you should consider choosing another school. If you are interested in online learning, OnlineSchoolsCenter.com has compiled many school options to consider, such as the Top 15 Online Schools for Bachelor’s in Organizational Management, among many others.

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