We’re living in strange times, no doubt. We’re alone with lockdowns, civil unrest, and many other issues to adjust to and sort through to prevent giving or getting the coronavirus.

Welcome Back To School Min 1 -

Most universities are adapting, too, going online in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Whether that means your university is doing some kind of hybrid classroom/online approach or is entirely online, it raises many new questions.


How To Communicate Min -

In online classes, how can you effectively communicate with your professor and other classmates?

Everyone knows that asking a question to clarify something is difficult enough in person, but what about through an online video chat while 50 other students are vying for the same instructor’s attention?


First, let’s break down your options for communication.

Perhaps the most effective communication method with your teacher will be via email.

Another option could be office hours, where you may be able to see your instructor in-person. Just don’t forget to bring a mask.

One other approach could be via the online video feature for your class.

Break It Down Min -

Outside of those three options, you probably won’t have much of any chance at communicating. So, it may be best to hedge your bets on these three avenues and learn to use them effectively.



Dont Be Shy Min -

Even before COVID-19, email was the preferred method of communication between students and the faculty, that means there are pretty well-established forms of etiquette and rules for communicating effectively via email ( 2020).

First things first, don’t be shy!

If you have a question, a concern, or even a comment, you should consider writing a brief email to your instructor. This is akin to raising your hand in class, and teachers are generally pretty receptive to questions.



Speaking of not being shy, it often helps to introduce yourself early on in the class.

This can mean shooting a quick email to your professor a few days before class begins.

In most online classes, however, the instructor may ask every student to post a quick blurb about themselves, what they expect out of the course, and other ambitions or goals they may have.

Even then, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to your teacher one-on-one. This helps to establish a rapport with your instructor.

While it may not seem like much, you’ll be surprised how much faster your instructor gets back to you if you’d already introduced yourself earlier.

Early Intro Min -


Another important aspect of communicating via email is word count.

When introducing yourself or asking a question, try to be as direct and concise as possible.

Put your class and name in the subject line.

In your email body, pose your question directly. There is no need to build up to it.

This is important since a professor will typically have dozens of emails full of questions every day.

The longer your email, the longer you’ll likely need to wait for an answer.


Office Hours -

Depending on your situation, professors may still be able to offer one-on-one office hours.

If this is the case, then take note of your professor’s hours. They typically won’t change and are a great time to meet with your instructor.

Best of all, during office hours there’s no need to compete for attention.

If your professor is not offering in-person office hours, then consider asking them for a brief one-on-one video chat or phone call.

Either way, getting your professor’s attention by meeting or making an appointment during office hours is a solid approach to clarifying problems and getting extra help (Max J. Lee, N., 2020).


Since your classes are online, you’ll also need to understand how to ask questions during the video lecture.

This is preferred since asking a follow-up question via email isn’t always going to work out.

One effective method is to write on a piece of paper or create a small sign that says, “I have a question.” Hold this sign up to your webcam and wait for the professor to call on you. 

Video Chat Min -


Why is this better than blurting out that you have a question?

Because online video chats are already chaotic enough. If everyone speaks up when they have a question, then the professor cannot possibly hear and address every question.

Instead, the sign does two things.

First, it lets the professor talk without interruption while letting them know that you have a question.

Secondly, it sets an example for others to do the same, thus preventing too much noise and chaos.

This is an especially good bet for larger class sizes.


Last Thing Min -

Another aspect of good communication is to keep a clear head and a good mental state.

Don’t ever message your professor if you’re angry.

Also, it may be good to abstain from substances before and during class, especially when you’re asking a question.

If you find that you’re relying too much on substances to get you through your day-to-day experiences, that could be the sign of a developing substance abuse problem.

See cited sources below for links.


Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

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Cited Sources

Instructors. [online] Tips for Communicating with Your Online Instructors. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 September 2020].

Sunshine Behavioral Health. 2020. Alcohol Addiction. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 6 September 2020].

Max J. Lee, N., 2020. 5 Tips For Effective Online Teacher-Student Communication. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 6 September 2020]. 2020. Tips For Effective Online Communication. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 6 September 2020].

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