Online education is different from traditional schooling in many ways. Class time is spent in front of a computer instead of in a classroom, and interaction between students and teachers usually happens with some degree of separation. Learning, especially in high school, is as much a social experience as it is an intellectual one, and some parents assume that online classes won’t provide the same social skills building opportunities as brick-and-mortar schooling.
And yet, online classes are rife with opportunities for interaction, collaboration and socialization. In fact, online students engage as much as students at traditional educational institutions—they just do it in different ways.
Today’s online courses are designed with student collaboration in mind.
Group projects lead students to collaborate using interactive, cloud-based platforms, interact in real-time using web conferencing apps, and produce online presentations together. Most online classes also have discussion boards integrated into their interface. Embracing these message boards not only helps students achieve academic success, but it also opens the door for the type of casual social interaction that comes naturally in a face-to-face setting. Many classes even have accompanying virtual study groups where students can group chat and study together outside of designated class hours.
If your online high school courses are connected to an accredited university, chances are you’ll have access to a host of official societies, clubs, and extracurricular organizations. For example, ASU Prep Digital students are able to participate in the National Honor Society, Student Government, debate club, and other official campus organizations either in an online or on-site capacity.
For those who are studying remotely or are attending a purely online institution, student-created clubs and organizations can be a valuable asset for community and social interaction. When you enroll in an online class, chances are you’ve also gained access to a variety of peer-led organizations built around student networking and professional development. Many of these clubs also host video lectures featuring faculty members or industry professionals.
And then there are those times when nothing measures up to some good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction.
Lucky, if you’re enrolled in an online program through an in-state college or university, chances are some of your classmates will be local to you. Facebook and other social networking apps make it easy for local students to organize meetups and get to know each other outside of the online space.
Speaking of social media, normal friendships between students usually blossom once the “student” monikers have been dropped and the deeper aspects of their personalities are revealed. Even if none of your classmates live nearby, embracing Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks is a great way to establish relationships both inside and outside of the class setting, which lets your classmates see a well-rounded version of you.