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Online Learning Is Different! Top 5 Hacks: #2 Online Communication Skills

This guide provides practical tips for you to get ready for online learning in Term 1.

At a Glance

In this section, you will be able to learn more about Online Communication Skills! Find out how you can adapt and cope well by improving your online communication skills such as online writing, speaking and networking with your peers in these period of full of virtual classrooms.

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Books Corner

Tips for Honing Your Online Communication Skills

1. Clear communication through writing

As the majority of the face-to-face seminars are moved online this semester, all of the nuances we receive from body language may not be as effective in conveying our emotions and thoughts. Hence, it is vital that we learn how to communicate clearly through our writing. As students, we may have to participate in class by sending our questions through a chatbox and a clear and succinct question helps your professors and peers understand your query better. Read more at 15 Expert-Recommended Ways to Improve Your Written Communication.

2. Speaking up for clarification or when problems arise

Professors often rely on our body language and facial expressions as telltale signs of whether we understand what they are saying. We all frown and furrow our brows every now and then at a very complicated topic. Fortunately, our professors are quick to swoop down on these gestures and proceeds to ask the most heavenly question, "Would you like me to go through it again?". With sighs of relief and a resounding "YES" from the class, the professor patiently runs through the course material again. Unfortunately, with Microsoft Teams Video or Webex, they can't really use this super power as much as they would like to. Hence, it is only polite that we should help our professors by voicing out any matter we have problems understanding. A quick click on our "unmute" button or a few taps on the keyboard can save us from weeks of misunderstanding our course materials.

3. Teamwork makes the dream work

With online classrooms, there would definitely be a lot of questions and doubts lingering about. Hence, now is the time for you and your classmates to stick and work together. More pairs of ears are definitely better than just one. It may be hard to connect with your peers digitally but making use of online platforms can make it engaging and fun. You can opt to create a Google Document with a few of your classmates to take notes together or even meet up after class through a video chat to go through the lesson with each other. In this period, your professors may be receiving a ton of other emails than usual and your queries may not be answered immediately. Hence, having your peers to rely on to for clarification will be a good start. Here are more Ways to Connect with Your Online Classmates During a Time of Social Distancing.

Also check out more peer-to-peer advice and recommended resources on Hacks #3 Online Collaboration and #4 Online Group Work!

Tired of Reading? Watch These Videos!

Here are 3 alternatives to face-to-face communication:

1. Emails

  • Best for transmitting large amount of information instantly.
  • Able to give out detailed instructions which may be time-consuming when done face-to-face.
  • Able to send invites & appointments and put meetings on calendars.

 2. Social media

  • Great for sending out best possible message.
  • May lack authenticity due to carefully crafted messages.
  • People tend to give two reactions: either love it or hate it.

3. Video conferencing

  • Great alternative due to visual, audio and text-to-subtitle options.
  • Gives a very dynamic interaction with the audience and ability to adjust to their reactions.
  • RECOMMENDED: One-to-one live conferencing which is the most similar to face-to-face communication - it is the best in building a relationship foundation prior to convening to other online communication tools.

These alternatives to face-to-face communication can help you decipher which mode of communication you may want to contact your peers with. It is also best to consider these alternatives when planning events for your CCAs as each mode comes with its own advantages!

Here are 5 tips for you to make online learning and communication work:

1. Stay organized

  • Take initiative to get on top of your assignments by putting every class and assignments in one big calendar from the start once you received your course instructions. Relying on social cues from your professors and peers may not be as it was in physical classes!

2. Add virtual office hours to your calendar

  • If your professors offer them, sign up and attend them!
  • Come prepared with your weekly reading materials and communicate your understanding by asking relevant questions. The questions don't have to be earth shattering but it is important for the professor to know that you are understanding the course materials. Frequent attendance to the meetings can communicate to your professor that you are eager to be right on track!

3. Treat online classes as you would with face-to-face classes

  • Arrive on time for your classes, take notes, engage with the class material and ask questions just like you would in a physical class.

4. Replicate the support you have by

  • Email your instructors if you have any questions.
  • Make a virtual study group with your peers to discuss your readings and test each other about them.

5. Get yourself in "work" mode

  • Set up your desk like a work station and prevent any interruptions/distractions.
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