Oregon State University|blogs.oregonstate.edu

Help from Peers in Online Classes

  March 17th, 2018

Anyone who has taken an online class knows how hard it can be to adjust, because you don’t have the support like you would in an in person setting.  You don’t have someone sitting next to you that you can ask a quick question if you didn’t understand something. This can lead to people struggling, because they don’t know where to turn.

For some students it is easier for them to ask a peer for help instead of the teacher.  Some students are worried that the teacher might think they weren’t paying attention or might be quick to judge.  I know for me it was always easier to ask a peer for help instead of the teacher and most the time a peer can help you.  So, once you get online it shouldn’t be any different, right? But sadly, it is. It is not as easy to just turn to a peer and ask a question.

Online it is probably easiest to email your professor when you have questions, but once you’ve emailed them once or twice you typically start to feel like burden.  But how do you go about emailing or asking a peer who you’ve never met before? It makes it hard. You probably don’t have anyone’s email, because that isn’t given out.  You can respond within comments on a discussion board, but besides that you don’t really have much one on one contact with your peers.

For myself I believe that it would help me a lot to be able to text or email my peers with questions instead of emailing my professor.  I have worked in small groups for projects for online classes and my groups always seem to end up helping each other with assignments and questions that don’t pertain to our project.  And the other person in your group might be thinking the same thing, or confused on the same thing. Shooting a group email and text makes it easy to get a response, or all your group members might be confused on the same thing.  If that is the case when you email your professor, you can mention that your whole group is confused on the issue, so maybe the professor when clarify what they are asking, or post the answer to the question in another place.

I think three or four people is perfect in a group.  Once you get up into five or above it tends to be a little more hectic and you phone could be getting flooded with group texts, which none of us want.  Getting in a group early in the term is important so you have a lot of time to get to know your group members. A good way to form groups would be opening a discussion for people at the start of the term to tell the class a little bit about themselves and their learning style, then you can join groups that way.  The reverse of this is some students don’t want to be in a group, so I believe that this would work best if teachers made it optional. Some people work better alone and have no problem emailing their professor with questions. But for some of us having a few peers that we can turn to would be the key to success!

Writer: Brooke Zerby

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