Online Learning Tip #6: Meet Your Peers and Instructor

by Shannon Bicknell | Apr 04, 2016

Meet with your peers and instructor
You may be wondering how you are supposed to “meet” your peers and instructor when you are taking an online class—and that’s to be expected, especially if you are new to online learning. When you are used to interacting with your classmates and instructor in a face-to-face class, it can be hard to imagine what this would look like in an online environment. Keep reading for some tips about when, where, and how to interact with your classmates and instructor.

Online Profile

If your course uses a learning management system (LMS) that allows you to make a profile, take advantage of this feature. Completing your profile and uploading a picture of yourself will go a long way for making the interaction in the course as personal as possible since the thumbnail will show up next to your discussion contributions. This also helps your instructor feel more connected to all of you as well!

Discussion Boards

Most online courses include discussion boards not only for engaging with the course material but also for asking more general questions. Reaching out to others using these discussion boards is great for a number of reasons:

  1. You’ll have the benefit of receiving answers from multiple people.
  2. Your question and the answers you receive will be visible throughout the semester, so those will be easy for you to find later.
  3. Your classmates will have the benefit of utilizing the answers you receive as well since students often have the same questions or need similar clarification about assignments.

Virtual Office Hours

Your course may also have a “Virtual Office Hours” space. You can make an appointment with your instructor and then meet virtually in the space to ask questions about the course and receive guidance on assignments.

Study Groups

Study groups are a great way to learn and interact with your peers—and this is an option in online classes as well! You can send out an email to your classmates in your course site to see if anyone is interesting in studying together. You can then meet in person or even use a virtual study lounge (much like the virtual office hours) to collaborate and help each other succeed in the course!


This option may seem obvious, but the key here is to not be afraid to email and reach out to your classmates and instructor. Most course sites allow you to send an email directly from the site, so you can reach out to your instructor for more personalized feedback or with personal questions this way. Email is also a useful tool for emailing group members to stay on track with group discussions and projects.

You have a wide variety of tools at your disposal for meeting and interacting with those in your online course. Taking advantage of these options will not only make for a more personal and meaningful experience but also creates opportunities for you to gain and share knowledge with your fellow classmates and your instructor.