Just because you take online courses or are enrolled in distance learning programs doesn’t mean you can’t meet your classmates and form study groups and tutorial sessions, or interact with each other over the Internet. Meeting your classmates and exchanging each others’ informations is actually a good thing as you might need to confirm a due date of an assignment or exam date later down the line, or just may need help with something regarding that particular course. Also, of course, no one likes to study alone, so making friends with your online classmates could be a way for you to form online study groups instead of studying completely independently, which is never really that much fun anyway.
It’s pretty normal for classmates on traditional campuses to get together to study, exchange notes, and help each other out with work. Students who take their courses online can do just the same with programs such as Microsoft Windows Live Messenger, according to an article posted on Microsoft Windows, which talks about how students can make up their own virtual study groups. This program is free and can be easily downloaded to use for online meetings, study groups, and question and answer sessions. Through the combined use of instant messaging and social networking, Windows Live Messenger allows students to to share notes, photos, and videos while they chat. Sessions also have a virtual drawing board where students can write, sketch, or edit ideas using virtual pens and erasers. In addition, all work, notes, sketches, and images can also be saved for reference at a later date.
Other programs are available and easy for students to use for online studying, brainstorming, and sharing material. Programs such as Skype, DimDim, iChat, and Google Video Chat allow users to video conference while most also allow file and image sharing. Some of these programs also allow conference chats and group video calling as well, which would allow students to interact with one another for discussions, debates, and other assignments that require students to work together as a team. For students who are not comfortable with using video chat to interact with people they have never met before, there are simple instant messaging exchanges that can be done through programs such as Google Chat, AIM, iChat, Yahoo Chat, Email, and a number of other programs.
Many online colleges and universities also set up their own communication programs and allow students to use virtual campuses to interact with one another. While program specifics will differ between schools, students typically have access to message boards and assignments posted by professors. Students can also interact with one another with dedicated web spaces to discuss material, work, and other assignment ideas in real-time. They can also engage in discussions and debates over material through message boards and chat threads. These can be convenient for students who have different schedules, as it is not always possible for everyone to be online at the same time.
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