Many students are used to only communicating in the traditional classroom by face to face interaction and more recently outside the classroom by cell phone and E-mail. With online classes becoming more and more popular, there are so many other ways you can communicate with your fellow students and even instructor. Here are the 5 best ways you can communicate in an online class.

1. Course Room Chat– Most online classes have a chat function that allows you to chat in real time with other students who are logged into the class. It often will tell you who is currently logged into the class so you can chat with them. Many online instructors will publish specific times during the week they will be in the chat room as part of office hours. This is a great way to communicate in real time in an online class. Some instructors will set certain times for the whole class to meet and chat as well.

2. Main Discussion Forums– Most of the communication between instructor and student and student to student occurs in the discussion forums where you discuss the learning goals and course content. You basically answer the discussion questions and respond to your fellow students responses and the instructor will facilitate. This is where the most learning in the class occurs as well.

3. Individual Private Forums– This is where you can communicate directly with your online instructor. Often this is where you will find your returned graded assignments and course grades. Some online courses actually have specific individual online gradebooks. Some online classes will have their own internal E-mail system for each course.

4. Team Forums– In many online classes, your online instructor will divide the class up into teams to work on a course project. Please read my previous blog post entitled, “Online Teamwork:” for more information on this.

5. Outside of the Classroom– Most online institutions really encourage all communication to occur inside the online course room. This allows for everything to be easily tracked and followed up on. But, just like a traditional non-online class, much communication does occur outside of the actual class. This is in the form of E-mail and cell phone calls. Some newer ways of communicating between online instructor and student and even student to student has been through texting, Facebook, Google+,- Twitter, and LinkedIn.