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USF St. Petersburg campus Guide to Online Learning

Communication and Collaboration Skills

As an online student, you will be communicating with your professor and fellow students in a variety of ways. This will most frequently be written communication, but in some instances, verbal communication may be required. Examples include:

  • Emails through the USF Outlook or through the Canvas Inbox
  • Discussion board participation
  • Web conferences or virtual classroom meetings
  • Group work tools in Canvas

In some courses, you may be required to complete work as part of a group. Working in a group through virtual means can be challenging, but will be excellent preparation for life after college.

More Information

An online environment can sometimes feel more isolated than a classroom setting. Students taking online courses do not always experience the same kind of social interaction as students in a traditional classroom.  In an online course teachers are unable to pick up on non-verbal cues, such as a look of confusion on a student's face. Teachers and staff want to help you to succeed, and will answer your questions. Seek help when you need it.

Use the tools provided to communicate with your teachers. These may include e-mail, discussion groups, and chat room office hours.

Reading and writing are the main ways you'll communicate in an online class. Although textbooks may be required, you should be comfortable reading a lot of documents on a computer screen and be able to type.

Some tests have multiple choice questions, but many assignments will involve writing short or long answers. If you type less than 25-30 words per minute, it may be worth completing a typing instruction program before beginning online classes.

Online learners need strong reading and writing skills. Because the majority of your input is written, you will need to use clear writing communication to demonstrate knowledge, ask questions, and engage with others.  You will learn collaboratively from the instructor and from one another. To enhance learning, ask questions to clarify your understanding, post questions to discussions, and collaborate on projects. Students and the instructor share experiences and insights. Strong online students recognize that sharing questions and responses gives everyone the chance to explore course concepts in greater depth.

Visit the Netiquette Guide on the left menu to learn more about communicating effectively in an online environment.