Online Learning Tip #7: Seek Help When Needed

by Shannon Bicknell | Jun 14, 2016
seek help when needed

Although you will need to work independently at times in your online course, you are still a part of a larger class that can offer you help. If you find that you are struggling with a course concept and need help, don’t be afraid to seek out assistance. Your classmates can be a great resource in addition to your instructor. Likewise, there are many great university resources at your disposal as well—whether you are taking a face-to-face or online course.


Your online course site likely has communication areas that are built in to help you find and communicate with your classmates. There is often a Q&A forum in each course. This is a space where you can post general questions about the course and assignments. While your instructor will answer questions there as well, this is also a great place for your classmates to help you and for you to help your classmates.

Your course might also include an online study lounge or provide you with access to special groups created on various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Making use of these will not only make you feel more connected to your classmates but will also help you learn the material as well. Social learning is a great way to get the most out of your online classes!


Even though you may not meet your instructor face-to-face, he or she is available to help you from a distance. Online classes often have virtual office hours—think of it like Skype or Google Hangouts, but with your instructor! You can email your instructor to make an appointment, and then get much-needed help on your questions about the course content.

Email is another great way to seek out assistance from your instructor. A friendly reminder about email communication: even though your course site is available to you around the clock, your instructor will probably have a set turn-around time posted for emails so that you can rest assured that your questions will be answered. Most instructors will respond within 24 hours.

Just keep in mind that everyone—your classmates and your instructor—are all human and have multiple responsibilities, so make sure to keep all communication respectful and courteous. Your instructors are there to help you have a great experience, so reach out to them in advance if you have any questions so that they can assist you in a timely manner.

University Resources

As mentioned in previous blogs in this series, there is a wide range of university resources available to you—even at a distance.