checkingemailIn the traditional face-to-face classroom most of the communication is one-to-many, teacher to a group of students via lecture. This is an efficient a method of communicating content and dealing with course administration. In the online classroom, we still have one-to-many methods (class email function, video lectures, webinars, etc.) but most of our instruction becomes one-on-one. This has its drawbacks and its benefits. The tip here is to be aware of these and to adjust your expectations accordingly.


1. It’s simply going to take more time. We end up with a lot more email to answer, and we find that our students need more individualized assignment feedback.

2. We lose the ability to field questions in real time, and for our students to hear the answers. To remedy this I’ll collect some of these emails, turn them into an running FAQ, then draw my students’ attention to the FAQ page in my weekly email.


1. It’s personal. A good online teacher will surprise her students by how personal the instruction will feel to them. When one-on-one communication increases, and when the instructor takes the time to address students by name, read their questions carefully, and give them prompt and helpful feedback, students understand that the instruction has been tailored to their learning needs.

2. Text can increase our accuracy. This isn’t always true, but it’s a definite benefit of communicating via text. We do lose the ability to sense emotion and what is being communicated via non-verbals. But that’s not always bad; it can help us focus on the actual issue at hand. When students and instructors sit down to write, they choose their words more carefully (hopefully we do) and our communication can zero in on the issue at hand.

photo by William Hartz