By Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher EdFeeling isolated as an online student? Join the club.
Or rather, join a club. At a handful of institutions, students working toward degrees online are meeting outside of class via the Web. These extracurricular organizations offer online students what many feel they are missing: the social and professional opportunities that historically have been part of the college experience.
“When you’re on campus, you have opportunities to engage your faculty and your peers,” says Debra Ann Mynar, 39, an online psychology student at Pennsylvania State University‘s World Campus. “When you do distance education, you don’t have those similar opportunities unless you make them.”
Some online college students may feel like they are all alone out there. This article by USA Today explains that there are some things that online learners can do to connect with other students. I set up chat rooms, in my individual classes that I teach, where students can interact. I see some students who feel at ease starting up a conversation . . . while others are more timid. I have noticed some of the schools are including more ways for students to become more visible to one another by allowing them to post profiles with pictures. Due to the popularity of social networking, there is no reason an online student should feel alone. I like sites I have seen from schools like the University of Colorado where students can blog about their experiences online. I hope more students who desire interaction take advantage of these sites or set up social networking connections on their own to become connected.