One of the burdens of online learning is what to do when you have a question or simply don’t understand. Lecturers encourage the use of discussion boards for communicating rather than direct emails but first there are a number of things you can try before taking to the forums.
Find the answer independently
Firstly, determine what sort of question you have. Is your question related to the content of the unit, for example do you need help further understanding the topic? Or do you need to know the requirements of as outlined by the unit, for example, when or how to submit an assessment?
Topic related questions
- Take a break – first and foremost, remember your breaks! This can help your brain let go of the wrong ideas and prepare you for a fresh look
- Re-read the material – your notes and the pages in the textbook. Sometimes taking a look at the previous page or chapter will help provide additional context to the topic
- Re-read the questions for the topic – these can also provide clues as to what you should be drawing from the topic
Course requirement related questions
- Unit Plans – there is a wealth of information packed in each of your unit plans. At the beginning of the semester, the unit plan might have had you cross-eyed and confused, but as time passes you will find yourself referring back for niggling questions like whether or not you need to include your student number in footers or the weight of a specific assessment.
- Announcements – My university in particular uses the Blackboard Learning System (to be discussed in later posts) which, along with other systems, has a way for lecturers to make announcements such as exam times, unexpected assessment amendments, and general information. Announcements will not need acknowledgements or responses from students.
- Email – Check your university email. most universities will only communicate with students via the email that they provide you with. This means that despite you having provided your personal email, they will predominantly communicate with your university address. If you are unsure of how to use this, you may need to contact IT.
- Read previous posts – Chances are if you think to ask the question then someone else has (or that someone else would like to know the answer as well)
Still need help?
If you’ve got a question or you don’t understand something, you’re probably not alone. But if you’ve gone through the above and if you still haven’t found the answer then go crazy and post away! Just remember your netiquette!
For some great tips on communicating online, here is an excellent little video: